Samsung has told a US court that Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey showed tablets that predate Apple's efforts by decades.
Apple and Samsung are engaged in numerous legal battles in nine countries at the moment. One of them is in the District Court for the Northern District of California, where Apple is trying to have four Samsung smartphones and tablets banned from the US due to alleged design patent infringement.
However, Samsung has struck back by saying there are precedents for the tablet designs that Apple claims should be exclusive to the iPad. One such example of 'prior art' can be found in Kubrick's 1968 classic, where characters are seen using devices that are, to all intents and purposes, tablet computers.
Samsung's filing on Monday was picked up by patents expert Florian Mueller, who also noted Apple's original filing for a preliminary injunction against its Korean rival. The opposition brief includes a link to a YouTube clip showing the 2001 devices in question:
The brief points out that, in common with one of Apple's design patents, the tablet shown in the clip "has an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominately flat front surface, a flat back surface (which is evident because the tablets are lying flat on the table's surface), and a thin form factor".
"It would be amazing if the court agreed with Samsung that this constitutes prior art for that particular iPad-related design patent," Mueller wrote on Tuesday. "Whether or not Samsung will succeed, the mere fact that they proffer this kind of evidence is remarkable."
The opposition brief also reportedly claims that a tablet similar to the iPad was depicted in the 1970s British TV show The Tomorrow People.
While tech companies usually sue each other over technological patents, Apple has recently started going after Samsung for allegedly infringing on the aesthetic design of the iPad and iPhone, as Samsung's devices also have large, rectangular touchscreens and shun physical buttons as much as possible.
Apart from the Californian filing, Apple has also succeeded in getting a preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany, although a similar ban across the rest of the EU has been lifted due to jurisdictional concerns.