Apple and Samsung have been duking it out in court for quite sometime now, with Apple claiming that the Korean electronics giant has been “slavishly” copying its iOS products to use in Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. In its case against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, Apple has leaned heavily on two specific patents for its defense, both having to do with the exterior of the iPad.
As if to point out the absurdity of Apple patenting the exterior of a tablet, Judge Koh, presiding over the case, notably held up both the Galaxy Tab and iPad side-by-side and asked those in the court to tell which was which from a distance. It took lawyers on both sides of the aisles a few seconds to answer the question correctly.
The judge’s point seems simple. Sure, the Galaxy Tab may look like the iPad, but Apple can’t patent that appearance… and to prove her point, she made note that in 1994, a television network portrayed the look of a tablet much before the iPad or Galaxy Tab came on the scene. If true, this could seriously destroy Apple’s case.
Here’s the tablet in question, mocked up by the television network Knight-Ridder:
Looks familiar, doesn’t it? If this argument is accepted, it could seriously harm Apple’s claim against Samsung, as there would be prior art proving that Apple was not the first to come up with the idea behind the modern tablet.
As noted by Bloomberg, the judge looking over the case has said that Samsung may have looked to Apple for a few features, but that Apple may have looked to this 1994 mock-up for a few clues on how to build a tablet. Uh-oh, Apple.
While I think that Apple is a little far reaching when it says that it created the original tablet, I think they may have some ground regarding Samsung breaking a few patents. We’ll know the full ruling later this summer.