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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Swiss supreme court rules on fate of Siamese cat

The Swiss Federal Supreme Court is empowered to decide on all manner of issues of gravity and import: recently it was the fate of Siamese cat.

Swiss supreme court rules on fate of Siamese cat
Photo: Depositphotos

For nearly half a decade a man and a woman from the Swiss canton of Vaud have been fighting over ownership of the same Siamese cat, with the case climbing all the way up to the country’s top court.

In a dispute with nine lives, the conflict dates back to 2013 when the woman handed the cat in question to a male acquaintance so that he could look after the animal during her five-week holiday. However, the woman simply failed to collect the cat on her return.

In October 2014 however, the woman visited the cat carer. Then in the middle of the night, she simply took the cat with her.

That’s when the legal table tennis game began, according to Swiss news portal 20 minutes. The man took the case to court and the female ‘cat-napper’ was fined 2000 francs for minor theft. She was also forced to pay legal costs and hand over 500 francs in moral damages to the man.

But the women then appealed to the cantonal court in Vaud and won: the court argued she had always been the owner of the cat and therefore she could not be sentenced to theft.

Meanwhile, the cat continued to live with the woman and still does so.

Not content with letting sleeping cats lie, the man went on to take the case to the federal courts. He argued that the cantonal court had never ruled on his claim that the cat had been given to him as a gift or was promised to him as a gift.

In what could be one final twist in the case, the cantonal court in Vaud must look at the case again and decide if this was indeed the case.

As the supreme court said in its ruling on Tuesday, ownership of pets falls to the new owner after two months if no other arrangements are made.