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In its in depth look at Apple's war against Android, Bloomberg notes that a 1994 Fidler/Knight Ridder tablet design raised substantial question regarding the validity of Apple's patent on the iPad's design.

In 1994, newspaper company Knight Ridder released a video about what news in the future would look like.

The centerpiece of the video was a tablet that's similar to the iPad. (You can see the video below.)

This video has ended up dealing a big blow to Apple's legal attack on Samsung, Peter Barrett at Bloomberg Businessweek reports. He has a long report on Apple's various patent fights with Android phone makers like HTC and Samsung.

Apple was trying to protect its design, which is a rectangle with rounded corners and a big glass screen, from rip-offs by Samsung. But a judge ruling over the case said that Apple's iPad design was preceded by the Knight-Ridder video in 1994:

Apple got even more discouraging results on its iPad design. Again peppering her ruling with handy graphic illustrations, Koh showed how the crude-looking 1994 Fidler/Knight Ridder tablet, designed for reading newspapers digitally, created “the same basic visual impression” as Apple’s D’889 patent for the iPad. “The Court,” she wrote, “therefore finds that Samsung has raised a substantial question regarding the validity of the D’889 patent on obviousness grounds.” So, maybe the iPad’s design is up for grabs! In any event, Koh declined to enjoin Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1.

 

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