Sep 20, 2016

Swatch Take A Bite Out Of Apple In Trade Mark Dispute

It can sometimes seem like Apple is taking over the world, with its products increasingly ubiquitous and new launches hotly anticipated. They have however experienced some negative publicity recently. You will no doubt be aware of the controversial ruling of the European Commission requiring payment of back dated tax which has somewhat tarnished Apple's image. It has now suffered a further, though more minor, setback in the United Kingdom where it has been unsuccessful in obtaining a trade mark for its 'iWatch' name.

Apple had originally intended to use 'iWatch' as the name for its Apple Watch and it applied to the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office for a trade mark accordingly. The application was opposed by Swiss watchmaker Swatch with the opposition being based on the fact that 'iWatch' was too similar to its own trade marks for the words 'iSwatch' and 'Swatch'.

The opposition was successful which is not surprising given the extreme similarities between the Swatch marks and 'iWatch' and the fact that they would be used on identical or nearly identical goods.

Though they fought the opposition, Apple were obviously aware of the likely outcome as their watch was actually launched in 2015 as the 'Apple Watch' and not the 'iWatch'. If Apple wishes to use the 'iWatch' name in the future in the UK it will only be able to do so for certain products, predominantly computer software and accessories, which are not covered by Swatch's trade marks and which Apple would likely think are not suited to the 'iWatch' name in any event.

As this was a decision of the IPO, Apple can appeal the decision if it wishes to do so to the High Court. No indication has yet been given by Apple as to whether this is something they intend to do however as this product has already been launched and is known to consumers under the name 'Apple Watch' it would appear that there would be little value in Apple continuing this dispute unless they anticipate rebranding the product for future versions.

in: Case Law, News, Trade Marks

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