Apple accused of ripping off famous Swiss clock design

The iPad maker could be in hot water for reportedly using a trademarked design that it does not own the rights to as part of its iOS 6 clock app.

Apple's iOS6 clock and an official SBB watch from Mondaine.
(Credit: Apple/Mondaine)

The new look of Apple's clock app on the iPad that came alongside iOS 6 yesterday is ruffling some feathers.

In a report in Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger (by way of MacRumors), the Swiss Federal Railway service (SBB) has taken offense to the app's design, to which it says it owns the trademark.

The 1944 design by then-SBB employee Hans Hilfiker (which you can see here) is used in station clocks throughout the railway system, which is well known for its timeliness. It's also licensed to Mondaine, a Swiss watch manufacturer.

An SBB spokesman told Tages-Anzeiger that he was pleased that Apple was using the design, but noted that the company was not authorised to do so. The report suggested that a legal complaint is being drafted as a result.

Apple is no stranger to defending the look and feel of its own designs, including clocks. In 2009, Apple sent a letter of rejection to popular app developer Tapbots — the makers of Tweetbot and other iOS apps — saying that the clock icon used by the company in its pocket converter application looked too much like the icon used in Apple's own telephone app. Tapbots changed its design as a result.

More recently, the company's defence of its designs has extended to the look and feel of its smartphones and tablets. The very spearhead of its massive litigation against Samsung has focused on what it says are similarities — not just in hardware, but in the look and design of its applications and iconography, as well.

CNET reached out to Apple for comment, but the company had not responded by the time of writing.


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JacobB posted a comment   

I want them to make Apple pay for insolence and stupidity.


barrett posted a comment   

Oh dear....will be interesting to see Apples defence on this one.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

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