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Swiss Railway: Apple's Using Its Clock Design Without Permission 274

Posted by timothy
from the always-a-good-time-to-borrow-clever-designs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple received a lot of criticism during the Apple/Samsung litigation this past Summer as folks deemed it absurd that Apple was able to patent things such as icon design and the overall form factor of a smartphone. Well as it turns out, it appears that Apple has engaged in some copying of its own in the form of the new clock icon design used in iOS 6 on the iPad- a rather ironic turn of events given that Apple railed against Samsung for copying its own iOS icons. Specifically, the clock icon in iOS 6 on the iPad is a blatant copy of a Hans Hilfiker design to which both the trademark and copyright is owned by the Swiss Federal Railways service."
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Swiss Railway: Apple's Using Its Clock Design Without Permission

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  • by crmarvin42 (652893) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @01:21PM (#41429245)
    As a matter of fact that most people missed in the Samsung verdict, you CAN use the rounded rectangle shape. That was one of the few point of victory for Samsung... But don't let me get in the way of your trolling.
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @01:36PM (#41429357) Homepage

    Here's a Swiss railroad clock in its native habitat, at Cornavin station. [worldradio.ch] There are clocks at regular intervals along platforms, and the second hands are, of course, in sync. It's part of the Swiss Railways branding - their stations tend to have a large, if not excessive, number of those clocks.

    It's a famous design. A home-size version is available from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. [momastore.org] (It does not, however, sync to an external time source.)

  • by marga (455344) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @03:23PM (#41430139)

    Exactly what I thought when I read the article. How long can the copyright on the design of a clock last? If it's 70 years, then it'll still be protected for 11 more years.

    But then, it's also a trademark. I don't know swiss law, but trademarks are usually allowed to be renewed forever... If that's the case with this clock, then nobody will be able to ever make a clock that looks like this one without paying the Swiss Railway.

  • Re:Meh (Score:4, Informative)

    by arth1 (260657) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @03:40PM (#41430283) Homepage Journal

    The clock's visual appearance is almost, if not entirely, uncopyrightable in the US.

    The US DOJ takes down knock-off and counterfeit sites all the time, because design is, indeed, protected.

    http://torrentfreak.com/feds-seize-130-domain-names-in-mass-crackdown-111125/ [torrentfreak.com]
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20023918-93.html [cnet.com]

    Now if justice really was blind, and there was true equality in front of the law, we should see one of these on the apple web site too, not just companies that sell handbags and jerseys.

  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @03:44PM (#41430323)

    Apple did win some of the design claims, including the front face and bezel etc.

    http://thenextweb.com/apple/2012/08/24/a-verdict-reached-jury-apple-v-samsung-case/ [thenextweb.com]

    For the infringement of the D’677 patent, covering the front face of the iPhone, Samsung was found to infringe on all devices aside from the Ace. On the D’087 patent, relating to the back of the iPhone, all Samsung devices aside from the S 4G and Vibrant only were found to infringe.

    On the D’305 patent, all Samsung devices were found to infringe. That’s the design of Apple’s iOS icons. The jury also felt that Samsung should have known that the icons were being copied

    ..

    Trade Dress

    Samsung could not prove that the ’893 trade dress on the iPhone 3G was not protectable. The iPhone 3G trade dress was found to be diluted by many of Samsung’s products, despite not being registered. Only the Captivate, Charge, Epic 4G, Galaxy S 2, Skyrocket, Infuse and Epic 4G touch were found not to dilute the 3G’s trade dress.

    The Galaxy S 4G, one of Samsung’s flagship devices, was found to dilute the trade dress of the iPhone 3G, cranking up the damages numbers quite a bit.

  • Re:Prior art (Score:4, Informative)

    by hyanakin (1545359) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @03:46PM (#41430349)

    It's from 1944 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_railway_clock [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:And nobody..... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Archon-X (264195) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @04:35PM (#41430725)

    It's a trademark, not a patent.

  • Looks bad for SBB (Score:2, Informative)

    by Udo Schmitz (738216) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @05:09PM (#41430979) Journal
    Here's the registration for the trademark:

    https://www.swissreg.ch/srclient/faces/jsp/trademark/sr300.jsp?language=de&section=tm&id=512830 [swissreg.ch]

    It's a three dimensional trademark, only for clocks/watches so the two dimensional picture in a phone should be in the clear. And they forgot to put a color photograph in their application, so I guess the color of the second hand may not be protected. And copyright? On a clock? Good luck with that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23, 2012 @05:11PM (#41430987)

    Please check out what your talking about before blabbering along in blissful ignorance. The Swiss railway clock is not subject to a patent, but to copyright. That makes an hell of a difference. The patent system is completely rotten by now (even of the original aim was good) and should be killed or at least reinvented from the ground up. But if copyright is abolished, then so is copyleft, as it is nothing but a very clever use of copyright. Nobody around here or on the society in general would be helped by that. So let us all respect other people's copyright, even of they are the Swiss Railway Company.

  • by rjmnz (165487) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @06:21PM (#41431375)

    The design is also trademarked. That's a different kettle of fish. How old is the trademarked shape of the Coke bottle?

    Mod parent up.
    Trademarks and trade dress expire only when you fail to defend them. The term is trademark dilution.

    Put a beverage in a waisted bottle and watch CocaCola successfully sue your ass, just like they have done before. It doesn't have to be identical.
    These things however require active defence. The Swiss Railway must defend their mark. If they allow this then the mark is diluted and they lose ownership.
    This is not new. Just because "trade dress" is a new concept here (partly due to the inappropriate (in my view) use of the term "patent", does not make it new.

    The same rules required Apple to sue to protect their design.
    I wonder if Samsung actually understand the concept of "trade dress" and it's long (European) well defined legal status (in case law as opposed to statute).
    I would bet that the CocaCola execs were completely happy with the Samsung Vs Apple verdict.

  • by crmarvin42 (652893) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @09:55PM (#41432645)
    I and others have pointed this out that this patent was rejected before. If you are going to harp on a single patent in that case, then you should at least be aware of the verdict on that particular patent. It's not like there wasn't sufficient coverage of the details.

    I'm not defending Apple, they are pursuing a strategy and will reap whatever comes, and deservedly so. Willful ignorance just irritates me.

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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