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Shots that challenge Apple’s ability to beat Samsung

With $2.5 billion on the table, Apple and Samsung will be punching each other to death with squads of highly paid lawyers in a California court room. Central to Apple’s case is that the launch of the iPad in 2010 (three years after the iPhone in 2007) heralded the world’s introduction to a slim, smooth, tablet PC with rounded corners and frame-like border. KitGuru dusts off the archives to view some impressive evidence.

While Knight Rider involved ‘the Hoff’ with a dodgy perm and smart arse computerised car, Knight Ridder was a newspaper and information company that, at its peak, was the second largest publisher of its kind in the USA – with 32 daily newspapers.

In 1992, Roger Fidler established a forward looking think tank, within the Knight Ridder corporation, to try and understand what tomorrow’s newspapers would look like. Just two short years later, his team had come up with a concept and created a video to showcase the idea of a tablet-based news and information device.

One of the main arguments that Apple’s legal team will be making in the present fight with Samsung, is that the Jobs squad came up with the idea of a device that was:-

  • Lightweight
  • Portable
  • Had a flat, touch screen interface
  • With rounded corners
  • And a frame-like border in a contrasting colour

That begs the question of whether Samsung’s legal team will introduce high-res shots from Knight Ridder’s tablet video.
Which shots?
Well, we’re no legal experts, but we’d probably start with these:-

Knight Ridder clearly went back in time to 1994 and nicked Apple's 2010 tablet concept - right?


Knight Ridder's Roger Fidler with his 1994 tablet (left) and Apple's 2010 iPad (right)

As KitGuru reported earlier, British courts have already said that Samsung has not copied Apple and the same court has required apple to spend money advertising that message. Anything is possible in a court room – so Apple might still win some kind of judgement – but the weight of evidence in the public domain does not look good.

You can see the full Knight Ridder video here and judge for yourself if Apple created a 100% new and novel device  that Samsung subsequently copied or was, itself, inspired by a much earlier design – which could also have inspired the Koreans.

Any Star Trek buffs out there might remember the Personal Access Data Device (PADD) used by Kirk and Co in the 1960s – which was probably the first time that many people saw a touch screen tablet PC.

Alan Kay’s Dynabook from 1968 is also worth a look. Especially if you’re a Korean defence lawyer.

The reason why everyone’s focused on Roger Fidler’s device, is that in the video he says “This device is under development at consumer electronics companies around the world… Tablets will be a whole new class of computer, weighing less than 2 pounds with a touch interface… We may still use computers to create information – but we’ll use tablets to access it”. In these sentences, he backs up the ‘look and feel’ with a fairly specific description of what they will be able to do and how they will be used.

KitGuru says: We love Apple for making the tablet as popular as it is – and we’ve bought plenty of them ourselves – but claiming that it was 100% original, patented and then copied by Samsung is going to be a tough argument to make. Harder if the judges either (a) see the Knight Ridder video or (b) find a statement on Apple.com saying “Nope, Samsung did not copy us”.

Comment below or in the KitGuru forums.

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