Apple pays out over iOS 6's Swiss clock-up

Apple pays out over iOS 6's Swiss clock-up

Summary: Apple has agreed to license the design of a station clock owned by the Swiss Federal Railways after a distinctly similar timepiece appeared in Apple's iOS.

TOPICS: Apple, iOS, EU

Apple has agreed to cough up for the rights to use the design of a Swiss rail company's clock.

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) had approached Apple about payment for using the design after noticing last month that a clock introduced in iOS 6 bore a resemblance to its own, 70-year-old clock timepiece.

"SBB and Apple have reached an agreement on the use of the SBB station clock on devices like the iPad and iPhone. The two parties have drawn up a licence agreement," the rail company said on Friday.

The SBB clock design that Apple has agreed to licence. Image: Shutterstock

SBB's station clock, built in 1944 by engineer and designer Hans Hilfiker, "is a design icon" according to the railway company. "It is a symbol of innovation and reliability, and represents an important identifying feature of SBB."

Apple attracted the attention of the SBB with the release of iOS 6 in June. The clock used in the latest iteration of the operating system uses the same red second hand as the Swiss railway company's station clock – with a distinctive red circle on the end. The circle, according to SBB, represents station staff's signal paddle.

The two companies didn't release any details on how much the licensing agreement was worth, or any of the terms of the deal.

Topics: Apple, iOS, EU

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  • Looks like a clock to me

    Yup ... looks like a clock to me.
    • what? really?!?

      How can you say it looks like clock?
      Oh wait. I see it now! Yeah, it looks like a clock.
      • Yeeesss....but not just any clock!

        It only looks like any one of the clocks any of us might have seen over the years that decided to forgo using actual numbers!!

        Now I know thats not the most common design for a clock, but its certainly not the only clock I have ever seen that didnt use any actual numbers.

        Maybe its the fact the second hand is red!! Red! Did you see that! The second hand is red! Who would have thought of that?

        Well, I guess Ive seen red second hands before now that I think about it.

        But!! There is a round ball on the end of the second hand! Now thats a little different. Although I know as a fact I have seen second hands with a little round ball on the end of the hand, I cannot swear that I have seen a red second hand with a little ball on the end of it on a clock using no actual numbers!

        Boy oh boy!! Is that ever unique. That is a real iconic timepiece clearly designed by an inventive genius!!

        Wait a minute, I just thought of something...let me check on this.




        Yup. Sorry, my 7 year old niece drew me a picture of a clock last year thats damn near identical. I guess I better hide it quick before the clock looking police spot it and take the kid to court.
        • the clock's hands are at issue here.

          It isn't even the color, it is the design. And the fact is that Apple has agreed to pay so they must agree on some level that they copied the design. Otherwise they would just throw a bunch of money in a very public suit to keep up their image.
        • If you're gonna sue for billions based on a a rectangle shape

          Then you have to pay out when you copy a circle.
          • Or in other words

            if your going to copy pay up....Samsung
    • Agree

      Wonder who should sue Swiss Railway for wilful appropriate of their prior art - Perhaps Father Time ?
  • LOL

    Samsung has weighed in on this matter and has made this one final statement,

    "What is Good for the Goose, is Good for the Gander"
    Dewi Thompson
    • Cool. So this means that

      Samsung will stop appealing its case and pay Apple the billion dollars it owes for copying its designs?
      • Beat me to it !!

        No hypocrisy on Apple's decision to pay for design patent use. So what seems to be Samsung's problem?
        • Well...

          If Apple can use things without asking and pay first when they got caught, why can't everybody?

          And besides, this is a very unique design that where all the major features of it were copied with no notable modification.

          Samsung did not clone iOS or the iPhone. Everything from materials and GUI (no, the launcher is not the entire UI) was different in many notable ways, and almost everything has prior art (unlike the clock).

          And I bet they don't charge $40 per tablet here!
          • Apparently ...

            not 'everything' is different.
          • Apple was not "caught"; the company has huge legal/licensint/patenting ...

            ... department which just failed to do their job this time. They clear countless objects of technology inventions and designs, but skipped this. Once they knew there is error, they corrected and that is it.

            Compare it to Samsung, which methodically steals Apple's IP -- and does it the way that it would be harder for Apple to sue. They do not just "copy", they make small topological alterations to designs so they would be sued and closed as counterfeit manufacturer. So that stolen IP only falls into "trade dress" legislation, which is much harder to prove (yet Apple succeed and was awarded with $1 billion as reimbursement of damages).

            Apple made to any little topological changes to clock's design and never claimed it as its own "original" after it knew there was not licensing clearing done on this design. They just corrected their mistake and that is it.

            A startling difference comparing to how Samsung acts.
          • Argh

            Nobody cares if Samsung copied just like nobody cares when Apple copies. Apple had their turn, Samsung is having their turn, and then someone else will come along and push Samsung out of the way and guess what, they'll be copycats too. And still nobody will care, they'll still buy what is being sold, as long as it benefits them. And then there will be people like us, who will have sold off to another company and hate another. I hope I'm wrong on that last part.
          • yes It's look like clock

            yes It's look like clock
            so I think looking cool
          • Samsung should stop...

            Manufacturing the processors for Apple's mobile devices. That would really screw Apple up. By the time Apple has won a breach of contract case they would be dead in the water anyway.
          • Bet you don't run a business do you?

            Or did you once run a now failed business?
          • Do you really believe that crap DDERSSS

            Apple screwed up, paid up when they used this clock. Interesting how Apple is losing suits around the world and Samsung is winning. The Cupertino court rulings are slowly being unwound and overruled, and will be tossed out for the most part before the higher courts get thru with their reviews.
            Role Guy
          • even if they were caught...

            they admit fault and pay no big deal and no litigation. This article was about a simple clock face and it was patented. So something as simple as the Chrome box mirroring a Mac-Mini shouldn't be out of the realm of litigation either, or is it all that different because they paint it black? Boxee knew how to be different when it came to tv streamers. Is it really that hard to differentiate oneself from another? Look at my point again, I stated "design" patent use, which many Android phones do try to resemble the iPhone The funny part really is how those who use Android are always so defensive.
          • Ridiculous

            .. is what it is. It's a freaking clock, it tells time. What's unique about it? I drew a clock in 3rd grade that looks the same. Apple should pay me a license fee?

            Apple is now reaping what they have sown. Welcome to 2012.