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)

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

    Should've made those corners rounded.

     

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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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      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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    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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      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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      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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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.

     

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