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Apple v Swatch: Swiss watchmaker wins trade mark dispute

Written by Sena Tokel, student from Southampton Solent University on 03 April 2019

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Watchmaker Swatch group triumphed in a legal battle with US tech giant Apple over the use of its “Tick Different” slogan which Apple argued is an infringement of its “Think Different” advertising campaign.

The tech giant originally filed an objection to the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property in April 2017 over the watchmaker’s use of the slogan but was turned down when Swatch argued that any similarity in the campaign was purely coincidental. Apple then took the case to St-Gallen based Federal Administrative Court.

In order to win the case, Apple had to show that Swatch's use of the phrase triggers an association with Apple products in the minds of at least 50 percent of consumers in Switzerland.

The evidence provided consisted of several articles on Apple within Switzerland however, the Administrative Court stated the tech giant had not provided sufficient enough evidence. The ruling on Tuesday saw the Swiss Courts in favour of the watchmakers, agreeing that Apple’s “Think Different” campaign which ran from 1997-2002, was not known well enough in Switzerland to warrant protection.

Swatch is no stranger to legal disputes and this was just the latest in a series of confrontations between tech companies. Two months ago, the Swiss watchmaker filed a law suit against Samsung alleging the South Korean company had copied their Swatch trademarks on its smartwatch faces. The group claim the Samsung marks “bear identical or virtually identical marks” to the trademarks it owns and uses on its own brands which include Swatch, Omega and Tissot.

The ruling ends what has been a long standing battle between the companies.

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