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Swatch confirms competition probe

The world's biggest watchmaker Swatch confirmed Monday it was being probed by European anti-trust authorities over claims that several luxury watch producers colluded to stop supplying spare parts to independent repairers.

Swatch confirms competition probe
Gerard M

“It concerns almost the entire watch industry, including the Swatch group,” the watchmaker said in a statement.

The European Commission had thrown out the complaint filed by the European Confederation of Watch & Clock Repairers’ Associations in 2004, but was ordered to reverse that decision by the European Court of Justice last year.

The confederation alleged that watch manufacturers refused to supply spare parts to repairers that did not belong to manufacturer maintenance networks.

“We are confident regarding the outcome of this investigation,” Swatch group said.

Stocks in the watchmaker fell 7.39 percent in late afternoon trade to 335.70 francs per share, leading the Swiss Market Index’s 2.98 percent fall, as investors continued to fret over the credit worthiness of the United States and other advanced economies.

LAW

Swiss watchmaker Swatch wins latest trademark battle with Apple

A top Swiss court on Thursday handed the watchmaker Swatch victory in a trademark dispute with US technology giant Apple – the latest in a series of legal disputes between the two firms.

Swiss watchmaker Swatch wins latest trademark battle with Apple
Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek with the Zero One wristwatch in 2014. File photo: AFP

In the current case, Apple had alleged the Swiss company’s ‘Tick different’ slogan was too similar to the US company’s ‘Think different’ slogan of the 1990s.

Apple originally filed an objection with the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, but that organisation turned down the complaint.

Read also: How luxury watchmakers are gearing up for Brexit

The US company then took the case to the St-Gallen based Federal Administrative Court.

To have a chance of winning its case against Swatch, Apple had to prove that the famous slogan – the related TV commercial won an Emmy for Outstanding Commercial in 1998 – had more than 50 percent recognition in Switzerland.

However, the Federal Administrative Court ruled Apple had not provided sufficient evidence that this was the case and found in Swatch’s favour.

The evidence for awareness of the slogan in Switzerland consisted of just several articles on Apple in Swiss broadsheet NZZ.

This dispute was just the latest in a series of legal confrontations between the two companies.

In 2007, Swatch, which is headed up by charismatic businessman Nick Hayek, trademarked the term ‘iSwatch’ before Apple was able to register the term ‘iWatch. 

The Swiss watchmaker also trademarked the expression ‘One more thing’, which was made famous by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Apple has had other legal problems in Switzerland. In 2012, it reportedly paid 20 million Swiss francs (€17.8 million) to Swiss Federal Railways to avoid going to court over its use of the design of the Swiss railway clock in its i06 operating system.

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