When Can You Say an Idea is Your Own?
by Susan Leem, associate producer
Apple is taking legal action against Samsung for making several products (including their Galaxy Tab 10.1) that resemble the patented Apple iPhone and iPad. Samsung’s defense? Someone else came up with the ideas for these smart phones/computers predating even Apple, namely Stanley Kubrick and his 1968 film 2011: A Space Odyssey. The characters in the video above appear to be reading their paper off of an iPad-esque device. This is called the “prior art" defense. The idea is that if Samsung can invalidate Apple’s patent, then they are no longer in violation of it.
The concept of owning an idea is so complex. It requires a very individualistic notion of creation. On the one hand we should recognize and reward a talented individual who can put ideas together in an original and useful way, but is there really anything new under the sun? Is there such a thing as a purely original idea, uninfluenced by any past ideas, and conceived by only one person?