Swatch won't take Apple to court over iWatch trademark

Summary:Switzerland's Swatch Group is challenging Apple's iWatch trademark, but has no plans for a court tussle.

The Swatch Group isn't happy with Apple claiming the name iWatch, which it believes is too similar to its own iSwatch trademark.

Swatch has pre-empted Apple's launch of the rumoured iWatch-branded smartwatch with a challenge to the tech company's use of the name, which it has registered in several countries over the past year.

Before the iWatch: A history of smartwatches, in pictures

Before the iWatch: A history of smartwatches, in pictures

"It is normal practice to register brand names in order to protect them, as it is also normal practice that one continues to monitor ongoing registrations with respect to similar-sounding names, and, where necessary, to oppose such registration," a Swatch Group spokesman told ZDNet.

The Swatch Group is opposing Apple's registration of iWatch at patent and trademark offices, the spokesman said, but added it was "not a legal action treated at a law court".

Swatch does sell an iSwatch with a digital interface and the spokesman explained the "i" in iSwatch refers to 'internet time' — a marketing concept devised a few years ago constructed around the idea of a universal Swatch "beat".

An Apple UK spokesperson declined to comment about the matter when asked by ZDNet.

While Apple hasn't given any details about whether an iWatch is planned, including what it will be called if and when it's launched, the company last year registered the name in Japan, Mexico, Turkey, Taiwan, and Russia, according to 9to5Mac.

According to watson.ch, the Swiss site that first reported Swatch's challenge, Monaco has granted a trademark for iWatch, while Iceland rejected an application for iWatch since it was "confusingly similar" to iSwatch.

Swatch also last year successfully opposed a 2007 registration of iWatch by M. Z. Berger & Co (MZB). Swatch won the challenge, however the US Trademark and Patent Office)dismissed the company's claim there was a likelihood of causing confusion between the two names.

MZB lost the trademark because it couldn't prove it really had a relevant iWatch product in the works. If Apple releases its rumoured device, it's unlikely to have the same difficulty connecting the name to a relevant gadget.  

Read more on smartwatches

Topics: Apple, EU, Legal

About

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, s... Full Bio

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