Friday, September 23, 2011

Open the pod bay doors, HAL

Perhaps this isn't the first time that a fictional construct has been cited in a court case as prior art (art in this case, being used in a literal sense), but it's the first that I've heard of it.  Of course I'm talking about the patent dispute between Apple's i-Pad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab which have cited the images in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey as evidence of prior art. The implications of this are interesting to me, and I wonder whether it will elevate art to a new level in terms of the relationship between conception and development.  Does a visual hypothesis equate to pre-conception.  Of course it's a long way from an imaginary conception to a working prototype and it appears that the German courts have rejected the Kubrick Defence, which is, of course, not called the Clarke defense, since it's design that we're talking about here. In other words, it's the visuals in the film, and not the description in the book that has been cited.  Nevertheless, the very fact that it was raised creates an interesting hornet's nest about the 'hypothesis', industrial design, and artistic conception and the interrelationship between them, particularly from a legal point of view.  As an author, I'll be watching the ongoing outcome with interest, and thinking about the power of art in new ways.

ps: I loved 2001 - one of the very few instances where I felt the film was better than the book. 

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