Witness for Samsung Says Apple Saw His Tablet Protoypes in the ‘90s

The patent case between Apple and Samsung--you know, the one where if Apple wins, the company assumes total dominance of the mobile device market and Samsung dries up and blows away--is a bare-knuckle legal slugfest, and it recently took an interesting turn.

Samsung brought forth videotaped testimony from one Roger Fidler (Program Director for Digital Publishing at the University of Missouri’s Reynolds Journalism Institute), who asserted that he’s been working on tablet designs since 1981, and according to Bloomberg, that in the mid-1990s, “Apple personnel were exposed to my tablet ideas and prototypes”.

That’s a good hard groin kick to Apple’s claim that its designs for the iPad and iPhone were completely original, and it certainly seems to help cast reasonable doubt (from a non-lawyer, outsider perspective anyway) that Samsung’s designs are rip-offs.

Roger Fidler (Image credit: rjionline.org)

Indeed, Fidler’s designs and vision for tablets on which consumers would read news included now-familiar features such as a flat, no-stylus touchscreen and rounded corners. With Fidler’s testimony, Samsung is apparently trying to say that A) it could be argued that Apple actually stole Fidler’s designs, which most certainly would nullify the former’s case against Samsung and B) regardless, it shows that design ideas for something like a tablet are more universal than Apple would like us to believe.

It’s also worth noting that Apple blocked Fidler from testifying in person and that Samsung managed to get the video testimony shown because it was central to their case.