Apple and Swatch in Trademark Dispute


Apple has boosted its hiring of senior bio-medical professionals and CEO Tim Cook has hinted that focus is now on the bio-sensing technology area, which he describes as being ready to explode. The bigger story is that Apple may be involved with Swatch in a trademark infringement dispute over the iWatch name, which it has already registered in several countries.

The world’s biggest watchmaker Swatch has filed complaints against Apple’s applications for the trademark iWatch, which is Apple’s entry product in the field of wearable technology. The Swiss company claims that the name, iWatch is too close to its own iSwatch brand and seeks to prevent Apple from using iWatch as a trademark.

Industry observers and insiders envision the long-awaited iWatch to be much more than a watch, but will be geared towards the fitness market with features that include monitoring of respiration rates and blood-sugar levels. The iWatch is highly anticipated as Apple has not introduced a new product since the iPad was launched in 2010, and investors appear to be concerned.

The trademark iWatch has been filed in Korea and Japan and there are patent applications for a smart ear bud that tracks steps and detects head movements. There are also unconfirmed reports that Apple may be expanding with the iWatch brand, with the development of separate platforms dedicated to the fitness area. The patent application for the iWatch describes the devices as containing a multitouch display and can assist the wearer in accomplishing several tasks that include managing playlists, reviewing phone calls, and managing text messaging. The ability to include solar power is also mentioned.

The potential trademark dispute between Swatch and Apple may cause the company to revise the plans or at least rename the product, which can have a dramatic effect on it marketing. Swatch is not yet suing but the intention is to convince the trademark authorities that the two names are too similar, and therefore Apple’s trademark iWatch should not be registered.

Trademarks are expensive propositions, as they are often associated with a coveted attributes. They are highly protected, as an investment, and if they are misappropriated, it is believed that much of the attributes will also be assumed.

There has been constant speculation that the iWatch may be ready for launch later in the year, and with trademarks already registered in several countries that include Turkey, Colombia and Mexico, it is difficult to envision Apple changing the name. The concern for Swatch is not unreasonable as it is easy to see why they would be highly protective, and they have moved to block the name several times before.

It is also possible that the companies may reach a settlement, as Apple has done in the past. In 2007, Apple settled with Cisco over the use of iPhone and in 2012, Apple paid $60 million to Shenzhen  Technology of China, as a settlement for the use of the name iPad.

Apple appears to have developed a lot of experience with infringement cases, and in addition to being involved in a trademark dispute with Swatch, the company has recently won a patent lawsuit against Samsung and was awarded a judgment of $120 million. The jury found Samsung guilty of infringing on three of Apple’s patents that were used in the iPhone.

Written By Dale Davidson