Swatch Takes on Apple Over ‘iWatch’ Trademark

Source: iWatch Concept by Todd Hamilton

Source: iWatch Concept by Todd Hamilton

Swiss watchmaker giant Swatch is taking steps to block Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) trademarks for the name “iWatch,” because of the name’s similarity to Swatch’s own “ISwatch” trademark, reports Watson via 9to5Mac. “We assess the likelihood of confusion as given, the marks are confusingly similar,” Swatch’s head of corporate communications, Serena Chiesura, told Watson [via Google Translate]. “In all countries where the mark is registered, we go against it before.”

Apple registered the iWatch name for trademark protection in Switzerland on December 4, 2013, reports Watson. However, this does not necessarily mean that Apple has secured the rights to the name. According to Stephan Beutler — a Swiss trademark lawyer cited by Watson — trademark protection is granted on a provisional basis and countries have eighteen months to respond to a trademark request. Appeals on trademark decisions can further extend the process. According to Watson, at least one country – Iceland – has already refused Apple’s iWatch trademark on the basis that it is “confusingly similar” to Swatch’s trademark.

Although Apple has yet to even confirm the existence of a product called iWatch, the company has already filed for trademark protections on the name in multiple markets around the world. Last summer, Macworld reported that Apple had filed for the iWatch trademark in Mexico, Taiwan, and Japan for a category of computer products. Around the same time, Apple also applied for the iWatch trademark in Russia, according to the Russian-language site izvestia.ru.

More recently, MacRumors reported that Brightflash – a shell company that is likely run by Apple – has pursued the iWatch trademark in Australia, Macau, Denmark, and the U.K. According to French Apple news site Consomac, Brightflash has also filed for the iWatch trademark in dozens of other countries around the world.

While it remains to be seen if Swatch is able to successfully block Apple’s iWatch trademark applications, it should be noted that this is not the first time that Swatch has objected to the Cupertino-based company’s move into what it considers to be its territory. Earlier this year, after it was reported that Apple had been attempting to poach Swiss watchmakers from various watch brands, Swatch chief executive Nick Hayek told the Financial Times that the established horology industry needs to guard its trade secrets from smart watch newcomers from the tech industry.

“We have been in discussions — not ever initiated by us — with practically all players in smart wearables up until today,” Hayek told the Financial Times. “However, we see no reason why we should enter into any partnership agreement.”

Many industry watchers and analysts believe that Apple will unveil an iWatch, or similar wearable tech product, later this year. According to insider sources cited by 9to5Mac, Apple’s wearable tech product will likely feature non-invasive medical sensors that will work with an upcoming fitness-tracking and health-monitoring app called “Healthbook.” Although some rumors have suggested that Apple may unveil the Healthbook app at next month’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Re/Code’s sources noted that the iWatch will not make its debut at the WWDC.

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