Samsung not allowed to use “2001: A Space Odyssey” prior art argument during Apple trial

August 2, 2012
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We’re back with another interesting detail from the U.S. Apple vs Samsung legal battle after having told you that Apple filed a motion requesting Judge Lucy Koh, who’s presiding over the case to punish Samsung for alleged misconduct (sharing rejected evidence from the case with the media,) by declaring Apple the winner.

While we wait to see how Judge Koh rules on Apple’s recent request – the company is also interested in having the jury know that Samsung has destroyed evidence that could have been useful in the case – we have one more decision from the same Judge that favors Apple.

Judge Koh ruled that Samsung can’t use one of the arguments it came up with to defend against Apple iPad design claims – the prior art evidence which Samsung found, of all places, in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In short, Samsung argues that iPad-like devices can be easily seen in one scene of the movie, hence the prior art defense – see image below.

While Android fans may hate Judge Koh’s rulings against Samsung in the U.S. case – she has awarded two injunctions against the Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Nexus in the U.S. with a few weeks to go until the trial started, but also denied other evidence from being brought to the attention of the jury – you’ll have to know that this time around the Judge is merely enforcing a previous decision on the “2001: A Space Odyssey” prior art argument made by Judge Paul Grewel.

Judge Grewel decided not to let Samsung use it in court in a previous ruling, which Samsung was contesting and Judge Koh did found that “Judge Grewal’s decisions were not ‘clearly erroneous'”. Here’s how Judge Koh explains the decision:

“For example, Samsung referenced clips from ‘Space Odyssey’ and ‘Tomorrow People’ in its opposition to the preliminary injunction in a general discussion of the background of the field. Samsung did not, however, argue that these references supported an invalidity or non-infringement theory. That Samsung changed tack after the close of fact discovery to include these references in their invalidity theories likely prejudiced Apple, who was not made aware during the preliminary injunction proceedings that Samsung intended to rely on these two prior art references for invalidity.”

Judge Koh also dismissed two other Samsung motions that referred to design-around source code for two Apple patents and to “striking of very significant parts of Samsung’s expert reports.”

That means that Samsung will not be able to show design-arounds for a couple of Apple patents which are allegedly infringed by Samsung products – the ’381 “rubber-banding” and ‘163 “tap to zoom and navigate” patents.

It also means that Samsung won’t be able to use some of its own experts’ reports in court as Apple managed to strike out various portions of these reports in pre-trial motions approved by Judge Grewel.

We’ll be back in the following days with more juicy details from this battle of titans.

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