This is a bit of a bizarre twist in the ongoing legal case between Samsung and Apple in the United States. Samsung has filed its opposition brief to Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction against Samsung devices. In it, Samsung claims that Apple wasn’t the first one to have the idea for a tablet with a large flat screen, pointing to the appearance of such a device in Stanley Kubrick’s seminal science fiction work ’2001: A Space Odyssey’.

Screen shot 2011 08 23 at 8.55.01 AM 520x234 Samsung cites 2001: A Space Odyssey’ in patent defense against Apples iPad

Samsung’s declaration regarding an image and a video clip displaying the use of the tablets by astronauts in the film explains that it looks very similar to the iPad, and of course, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, reports FOSS Patents:

Attached hereto as Exhibit D is a true and correct copy of a still image taken from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In a clip from that film lasting about one minute, two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers. The clip can be downloaded online athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ8pQVDyaLo. As with the design claimed by the D’889 Patent, the tablet disclosed 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.

Samsung is using this evidence as a part of its objection, claiming that it constitutes prior art for one of Apple’s iPad-related design patents that is at the center of the case. You can see the tablets ‘in action’ in the clip below:

Whether or not this tack will be successful will be interesting to see, regardless, many of us who are fans of 2001, have drawn the comparison before. That being said, many films have shown off a tablet-like device that displays information to its users. One of the most famous is the PADD device in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Not to mention the appearance of a very ‘iPad-like’ device in the Jobs-owned Pixar production The Incredibles, seen below.

When the iPad was announced, some have made conjectures about whether or not Jobs tested audience reaction to the iPad with its appearance in the Incredibles, although there is slim proof.

The burden is now on Samsung to prove to the court that the appearance of a thin tablet device, dominated by a large screen, in previous works like 2001, is enough to exhibit prior art.

Apple previously moved to have an injunction placed on Samsung’s distribution of the Galaxy Tab in Australia, and subsequently, Samsung postponed its launch of the tablet in that country. A hearing is scheduled for August 29th in that case.

Apple has also filed for a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s distribution of the Tab and other Galaxy products in the US, although it has yet to be granted. This US case is the one in which Samsung brought forth its ‘Kubrick defense’.