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Apple Accused Of 'Violating The Rights' Of Iconic Swiss Railway Clock

from the live-by-the-sword... dept

Apple is notoriously aggressive when it comes to going after others for supposedly violating its trademarks -- often taking it to extreme levels. So it seems noteworthy, as many of you sent in, that the Swiss Railway Service (SBB) is claiming that Apple's clock app in iOS 6 happens to infringe on a clock design they hold the rights to.
On the left is Apple's app. On the right, is SBB's iconic version. While the article above quoted someone from SBB saying that he's "happy" that Apple used the design, that doesn't mean that they're okay with it. They're not:
SBB is the sole owner of the trademark and copyright of the railway clock. The railway company will now get in touch with Apple. The aim is a legal, as well as a financial solution. It is not right that one [Apple] simply copies the design.
Apple has a bit of a history of playing fast and loose with the artwork it uses. Remember the story of the iPad background image? And there are plenty of reasons to suggest that Apple should be able to do this. But, considering how aggressive it is in enforcing its own trademarks, you'd think that it would be a lot more careful before doing things like this. Of course, you have to also wonder... if Apple weren't so aggressive with its own trademarks, would SBB be so insistent on a "legal" and "financial" solution?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:49am

    Not defending but really...

    Is Apple that "aggressive" in defending it's trademarks? I am not talking about the patents. But about trademarks. Is Apple doing anything any other company would not do? Trademarks are a different beast than patents. There are rules to keep them enforceable.

    Now don't get me wrong I think that a clock face like the above really should have no way of being trademarked nor should an Apple with a stem on top. But when you add the bite out of it.....

     

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  2.  
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    Tim K (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 9:58am

    Re: Not defending but really...

    Yes...

    Here
    Here
    Here
    Here

    I could probably go on, but you get the idea.

     

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  3.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:36am

    Re: Not defending but really...

    I see all the links below but is that a case of popular bias or a really case of defending a trademark that is above what other companies do? Just because a company is sited on Techdirt about their unreasonable trademark suit does not mean that they do it more than others do.

    Provide me with stats not blog entries, because those will always show a bias towards popular companies.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Not defending but really...

    This could help. I don't know if it supports that point of view or not (tl;dr...I'm at work right now). I'll leave that to the rest of you :)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Inc._litigation

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:57am

    Let me state the obvious: it's an f'n clock! IP is ridiculous.

     

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  6.  
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    anon, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 10:57am

    LOL

    Stats ...lol

    Apple has used everything from a rounded corner to an oblong to a design that looks similar to an apple, and you want stats, if anything the Swiss were probably not worried about the design being used and on any other day would ignore it , but as the author above mentions they, like millions of others worldwide, have seen Apple go after people for the silliest things so them going after Apple only seems right. Hopefully Apple will see the error of there ways and decide to just settle this for a few billion dollars as they have been using this design since the first iphone. And the clock is a fundamental part of any mobile or tablet as that is how people are telling time these days, mostly.

     

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  7.  
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    Tim K (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Not defending but really...

    I don't have stats on other trademarks at the moment, but I don't think anyone is as bad as apple. Pretty much anything that is an apple or has an 'i' in front of the name they try and claim is infringing. With something that non-unique, it's hard to be as bad as them.

     

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  8.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:02am

    Monkey see, monkey do

    I hope SBB nails 'em on the rounded corners! =]

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:03am

    Re: LOL

    iPhone 4 uses a different clock than this one.

     

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  10.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:04am

    If I were designing a clock app and browsing the internet for design ideas, the last thing in the world that might cross my mind is that a clock face could be copyrighted.

     

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  11.  
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    Shmerl, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:10am

    Apple is simply an unethical and hypocritical company, so this story is not surprising at all.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:20am

    Re:

    Well, what makes it special is the red second hand with the red circle at the end. Also the watch isn't ticking by second but going smoothly around.

    In addition: the swiss railways gave their OK to an app developer to put a swiss railway clock into the app store. It costs $ 1 or something. This developer asked for permission first -- Apple didn't!

     

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  13.  
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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:21am

    I think it's time Apple updates its own logo: instead of a nice, fresh apple, use one that's mealy and brown, with indentation to indicate rot.

     

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  14.  
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    saulgoode (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:26am

    Should've made those corners rounded.

     

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  15.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:33am

    When Apple copies an idea, it is an "original" unique take on it.

    When someone has an idea similar to Apple's they are thieving bastards who need to pay kajillions in court to them.

     

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  16.  
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    MrWilson, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:35am

    So by Apple's previous legal arguments about copying being so evil, should Samsung just make the billion dollar check payable to SBB instead?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:41am

    others would probably be more tolerant of Apple using their stuff if Apple were more tolerant of others using their stuff. as it is, Apple seems to think it has the right to 'steal' whatever it wants from whomsoever it wants, for free, but can then sue the arse off of everyone for the slightest possibility of something they claim as theirs being used by someone else. let's face it, the only reason Apple have been so aggressively getting Samsung products banned and removed is because the products are better than what Apple puts out. i seriously wonder whether there would have been so many iphone5's sold if Apple had've had to compete on a level playing field with Samsung?

     

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  18.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    Re:

    Samsung products banned and removed is because the products are better than what Apple puts out.

    Slightly off-topic: The new Samsung Galaxy S3 ads are hilarious in the way they slam the iPhone5 and Apple fanboys in general.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QR8A3T6sPzU#!

     

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  19.  
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    Rick Smith (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:55am

    Swiss Railway has to do this

    or Apple will end up claiming that they created the clock (whole thing not just the design) and will initiate their own court case for infringement, claiming at least a hundred billion in lost sales from all of these clocks being used throughout the world. Also as part of the settlement, we will have to change Swiss to Apple when referring to anything about time; so there will be Apple Watches and Timepieces. Watch out Switzerland or your knife could next.

    Donít bites the Apple or you may be assimilated!!!
    (Sorry not sure from which deep recess of my mind this came from, but seemed too good to pass up)

     

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  20.  
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    Mike Martinet (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 11:58am

    It's So Obvious

    I see what you mean.

    The Apple version has the clock face divided up into hours and minutes with the same "tickmarks" to denote the hours and smaller ones for minutes.

    Different length hour and minute hands.

    It even copies the whole 12 hours, 60 minutes thing.

    How blatant can you get???

    Apple, you got some 'splainin' to do.

     

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  21.  
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    Jake, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 12:10pm

    They've got a trademark on that? For crying out loud, every other clock face made in Britain in the 1980s looked nearly identical.

     

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  22.  
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    no, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 12:10pm

    How things works I would not be surprised if Apple get paid 1.3 Billions (or so). Prior art means nothing and, as you can see, they show a different time!

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Digitari, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 12:18pm

    Re: It's So Obvious

    "we are Apple!"

    "Next question".......

     

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  24.  
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    abc gum, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 12:20pm

    Re: It's So Obvious

    I see what you mean, the Samsung phone is rectangular and the corners are rounded, how blatant can they get?

    The many flavors of hypocrisy.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 12:20pm

    Re:

    And that one is from 1944

     

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  26.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re:

    Way to go off-topic. Hilarious.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    stryx, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    Apple is safe

    The Swiss are just making stuff up. Anyone can see that these are two totally different designs.

    Just look a the minute hand. Apple's glides though the time marks while the Swiss version dredges the outer limits of every last minute. And those hands? The Apple version is even, equitable, and balanced while the Swiss hands swoop around like wildly unbalanced, lethally tapered daggers. As well they should, all the better to slay those turgid stolid bollards the Swiss call minute marks. Apple's minute marks are arily graceful and full of hope. Which is why the way the second hand lightly caresses the hour and minute marks is so much more sensual compared to the way the Swiss second hand clobbers each hour mark, as if it were trying to beat every hour into submission through sheer dullness.

    I mean seriously.

     

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  28.  
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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Apple is safe

    Also the Swiss one has "Mondaine" printed on it, which is not in the Apple one. Therefor it is not a copy. =P

    Would have been hilarious if they slapped their Apple logo in the same spot though... =P

     

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  29.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not defending but really...

    Perception is not reality. Popular products ALWAYS have more trademark disputes than those that are not. Simple logic dictates that. The more popular the product the more likely there are going to be knock-offs that use the same or similar names and other iconic/logo designs.

    So the stats I am asking for are simple research. Based on the sales numbers are Apple trademarks more sued than other companies trademarks. Comparing Apples to Apples meaning if Apple sell 100 products sold and sues 5 times that is a 5% number while X company sues only once but on 10 products sold. Which would be a case of 10%.

    I think that research will show that Apple sues not more or less than other companies when adjusting for numbers.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 1:23pm

    Re:

    Let me state the obvious: it's an f'n clock!

    Actually, it's an f'n animated clock icon.

    IP is ridiculous.

    Idiotic IP claims are ridiculous.

    And the majority of IP claims are idiotic.

    And a whole IP leech ecosystem has sprung up around them.

    And guess who pays for all that in the end?

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    crew, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 1:28pm

    Time to check..

    Anyone that is arguing that "it's just a clock!" doesn't know much about horology in general. I don't mean that to be derogatory, just stating my opinion that there's more to it than ticks and shapes.

    If Apple had used the dial (face) and hands of a Rolex Submariner - which you might not all know by heart, but would certainly recognize in a lineup - do you think this would be a bigger issue in the public's eye? Other iconic pairs would be the Panerai Radiomir, Bell & Ross BR01, Omega Seamaster, Movado Museum, among others. Apple would be in hot water if they sourced from those.. wouldn't they?

    Swiss Rail has been using this clock, not just one like it, since the 1940's. It's in 3,000 terminals, and the large pip on the red second hand allows for high-visibility from a distance, so that travelers know if their train is ready to depart within the minute.

    SBB needs to make an example of Apple, such that something with such rich history doesn't just get scooped up and claimed by whoever feels like it. Apple went with a design that hasn't been touched in decades, so that they figured they'd have a viable claim. Don't call it "just a clock."

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not defending but really...

    Now your just being obtuse. You have been shown that Apple goes to lawyers on a regular basis. And you still put your fingers in your ears and yell NO NON NO.

    I guess apple fanbois will always be apple fanbois.

     

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  33.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 1:33pm

    Is this Swiss revenge for being put on the bad countries list? I sure hope so!

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Joshy, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

    if it's the same then can I please get the way cooler looking clock on the right and not the washed out bland looking clock on the left?

     

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  35.  
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    JT, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Not defending but really...

    Not defending but really... you are.

     

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  36.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not defending but really...

    I think that research will show that Apple sues not more or less than other companies when adjusting for numbers.

    While this might be true, I think you're missing the forest for the trees.

    Apple is aggressive in protecting their trademarks. Yet they are also guilty of infringing on other's trademarks.

    Either Apple is being hypocritical, or there's some problems with how trademark law is being used, or both.

     

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  37.  
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    btr1701, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Time to check..

    > Anyone that is arguing that "it's just a clock!"
    > doesn't know much about horology in general.

    I know a lot about horology-- how much they cost, what part of town you can pick them up, how to avoid the undercover cops-- but I have to admit, this is the first time clocks have come into the mix.

     

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  38.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not defending but really...

    I think you make a good point, actual research and stats would be nice, and I totally support you.

    Please let us know the results of your investigation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Re: Not defending but really...

    Just because a company is sited on Techdirt about their unreasonable trademark suit does not mean that they do it more than others do.


    What does it matter whether or not they do it more than others do it? A thing isn't made right or wrong based on how commonly done it is.

     

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  40.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 24th, 2012 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Re:

    It's not clear to me why anyone should have to ask permission to use the design like this. Trademark is to prevent consumer confusion. Is Apple's use confusing to the consumer? On the face of it, it doesn't appear to be.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 7:07pm

    Really glad that the photo of the Swiss clock on the right shows the time as 10:10.
    That at 1:50 are the most common times used in photos and adverts of analog watches and clocks, because at those times the clock appears to be smiling.
    /anecdote

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Pete Austin, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 8:58pm

    Watches Too

    This clock design is licensed for watches, if you like it and want a legal version. Google for Mondaine. I'm buying one. You may need to try a few places - my first supplier was out of stock for some reason.

     

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  43.  
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    Seegras (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 12:59am

    Re:

    Yes, and furthermore, it's not a copy, because the real thing looks like this:

    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2680/4193737950_c36577969f_b.jpg

    It's about 50cm in diameter. So this is just a thumbnail, which is covered by the right to quote parts of a work and fair use.

    Might be a design patent tough.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Donglebert the Lengthy, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 2:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not defending but really...

    to the extent that he briefly turns french

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Donglebert the Lengthy, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 2:05am

    Re: Not defending but really...

    Huh? Why should there be no way to trademark an extremely distinctive and clearly designed clock face?

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Donglebert the Lengthy, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 2:08am

    If the swiss ignored this, I'd fully expect Apple to start suing them in the near future.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Donglebert the Lengthy, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 2:16am

    Re: Re: Re:

    True, there would be no confusion. People would just assume that Apple have copied the famous Swiss rail clock design. Which they have.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Pete Austin, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 2:17am

    The issue is really about watches

    The issue is really about watches, not a few thousand railway clocks. For example follow this link. Apple is taking a design used for upmarket watches and mass-producing it for the same purpose at a very similar size, without paying any license fee. I'd be amazed if this didn't infringe copyright as well as trademark.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B000WF3V5E/

     

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  49.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 3:47am

    insanity rant

    Just another highlight of why intellectual property is a stupid notion.

    Should Apple be able to use this clock icon? Yes!

    Should other mobile phone makers be able to use rounded corners on their phones? YES!

    Should everyone be allowed to use "one click" purchasing on their websites? YES!


    Grocery stores are supposed to be counted in the big pool of jobs supported by "intellectual property". Aren't those the places where you can by brand or generic "infringing" products?

    IP is just fucknuts crazy now.

     

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  50.  
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    PCCare247 (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 4:47am

    'Apple of my eye'

    Apple has been in news for quite a long time now. Is Apple's doom near?

     

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  51.  
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    Niall (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 5:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not defending but really...

    Especially when they litigate in industries that have nothing to do with them - especially especially the grocery industry, vs actual fruit...

     

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  52.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Famous? Sorry, but it's a clock.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2012 @ 8:56am

    Re: Not defending but really...

    Apple's clock is a hell of a lot more 'similar' to the existing clock than some of the 'apple' trademarks that apple has sued over...

    So yes they are that aggressive.... anyone using a round fruit shape that 'appears' to be an apple is NOT violating apple's trademark, but that doesn't stop them from suing now does it?

    So when they STEAL the exact design, I would say they deserve to get hoisted on their own petard...

     

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  54.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Sep 25th, 2012 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Time to check..

    Since the 1940's? And how long before a design becomes public domain? I still argue it's just a clock.

    Needless to say, I've never owned a watch.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Robert W., Sep 25th, 2012 @ 1:21pm

    Clearly, its not an "exact" replica. The hour and minutes and seconds handle is thicker and longer on the original, this should make up the 5% difference and not violate the copyright.

    Obviously apple designed it in a way that its different enough in order not to pay any royalties.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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