Swatch won't take Apple to court over iWatch trademark

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.

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TOPICS: Apple, Legal, EU
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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

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, Legal, EU

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

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, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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5 comments
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  • Apple don't want iWatch ...

    ... they'll go for iTime.
    Heenan73
  • iWatch IS Apple. iSwatch is a joke name.

    iWatch is already strongly associated with Apple. iSwatch is a joke name if Swatch uses it. Swatch should simply use its Swatch trademark for their products.
    jameskatt
  • The confusion will be "Oh, this is a SWATCH?"

    It's pretty stupid of almost any company to take a product and add "i" to the front of it. Pretty much anyone will assume the product is somehow affiliated with Apple: iPod, iPad, iTunes.

    "i for Internet time"? Seriously? Who is going to make THAT connection?

    Maybe the other companies' marketing folks should think about using the name iDiot.
    Rick_R
    • That is Swatch

      They make garish and funky watches with garish and funky names. You want a watch called Cuttlefish, they have one!

      Apple are not able to trade mark "i" and so anyone can try and claim iWhatever. iPlayer is an example.

      Given that Apple are known to be a litigious corporation it gives Swatch some decent publicity, they'd be foolish to pass up on.

      The marketing people are not iDiots in the slightest. iNspired would be closer to the mark.
      dcarmi
  • Well let's see...

    Swatch registered the iSwatch trademark in 2010 which predates the iPhone?...nope, the iPod?...nope, the iMac?...nope. Ok, they have a product......?? Nope

    Swatch Legal counsel: "Hey...Guys!...just hold off on the legal threat bit for chrissakes...there's a company out there with $billions of readies that has established a worldwide branding on iAnything with hair trigger responses when it comes to protecting that brand. Alright?"

    "My bill for $60k for that bit of advice is in the post."
    frogspaw