Here's a comical topic for sci-fi fans at the next convention (pick one): Samsung claims that film director Stanley Kubrick actually designed the first tablet in his (awesome) 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
As seen in the YouTube clip below, astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole watch video on a rectangular tablet while enjoying a meal. Samsung is using this example in its patent infringement battle with Apple regarding the iPad 2's design and the alleged patent-infringing device, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. Because of this clip, Samsung insists that Apple's patent is null and void because Kubrick designed the tablet first, and that Kubrick's creation falls within the "prior art" defense.
"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," reads Samsung's oppositional brief filed Monday night. "In a clip from that film lasting about one minute, two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers. 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."
It's true: the movie prop may not have the ability to surf the Internet or play Angry Birds, but it's nearly identical to the iPad and subsequent copycat tablets, and even sports the ability to play video. If anything, it appears as if Steve Jobs may have been half-asleep one night while Kubrick's movie was playing on the TV, and he jumped up out of his chair shouting Eureka! as a sudden idea of a thin, rectangular video-playing device floated behind his dollar-sign eyes.
This is where "prior art" comes into play. In patent law, this refers to all information made available publicly in any form before a given date that might be relevant to a patent's claims of originality. Hence, if any invention can be described in prior art, its patent on that invention is invalid. Samsung is hoping that Kubrick's tablet design in 2001: A space Odyssey will fall into this category.
But if not, the company could always fall back on the tablets used by numerous Starfleet officers during the Next Generation era. Say Mr. Stewart, is that an iPad you're holding? No, of course not. How silly of us to think that.