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Samsung: Apple stole the iPad’s design from a tablet it saw a decade earlier

Zach Epstein
August 15th, 2012 at 11:03 AM

We’re starting to see a theme develop here. Now that it’s Samsung’s (005930) turn to present its case in the San Jose, California patent trial that regularly has the tech media abuzz, the company is taking an interesting approach. Rather than start out by arguing that its various Android smartphones and tablets do not copy Apple’s (AAPL) designs or infringe on its patents, Samsung is arguing that Apple’s IP is invalid to begin with. On Monday, Samsung argued that Apple’s pinch-to-zoom patent was stolen from Mitsubishi’s old Diamond Touch and on Tuesday evening, Samsung made a similar argument regarding the design of Apple’s iPad.

Samsung on Tuesday presented the jury with videotaped testimony from Roger Fidler, head of the digital publishing program at the University of Missouri. In his testimony, Fidler stated that he began work on a tablet design in 1981, Bloomberg reported. “Apple personnel were exposed to my tablet ideas and prototypes,” he testified, adding that Apple staff saw his designs in the mid-1990s.

“My original assumptions were that it would be a touchscreen without a stylus,” Fidler testified. His tablet design would be used to build a working model in 1994, which featured rounded corners and a flat touchscreen.

Samsung’s claims that Apple employees were exposed to Fidler’s tablet more than a decade before the company launched the iPad in 2010 is a serious allegation. The company is trying to show that Apple’s protected tablet designs, which the company claims are being copied by Samsung in devices like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, are in fact invalid because Apple itself stole them from prior designs.

The Apple v. Samsung trial in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose) is expected to conclude toward the end of August.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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