Apple accused of ripping off Swiss clock for new iOS6 app

Sep 21, 2012

After Apple sues Samsung $1bn for copying its products, is it time for the iPad maker to cough up?

APPLE has been accused of ripping off a famous Swiss clock design for its iOS6 clock app.

The iPhone and iPad maker could be in trouble for reportedly using a trademarked design to which it does not own the rights.

Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, translated by MacRumors, has claimed the Swiss Federal Railway service, or SBB, owns the trademark and has taken umbrage at the Apple app's design (above left).

The 1944 design (above right) by railway employee Hans Hilfiker is used in station clocks throughout the railway system and licensed to Mondaine, a Swiss watchmaker.

An SBB spokesman told Tages-Anzeiger that he was pleased Apple was using the design, but said that the company was not authorised to do so. The report suggests a legal complaint is being drafted as a result.

Tech commentators have highlighted the fact that Apple has been quick to claim damages when others have copied its designs.

In 2009, Apple wrote to app developer Tapbots - the makers of Tweetbot and other iOS apps - saying the clock icon the company used in its pocket converter application looked too much like the icon used in Apple's own telephone app, reports CNET. Tapbots changed its design as a result.

"Fair is fair!" says Gizmodo. "Apple just won a billion dollars from Samsung for exactly this kind of copying. Now it'll be Apple's turn to pay up."

Gizmodo adds that it is a "shameless rip off", claiming Apple stole the design "completely and without remorse - like a bunch of highway bandits".

"Is it patent infringement when you copy basic design elements?" asks Forbes magazine. "Apple says yes, and so does a billion dollars in damages from the landmark Apple vs. Samsung case. The Cupertino juggernaut may want to temper that claim, however, as it seems Apple may have ripped off the design for its new iPad clock app."

Apple is yet to comment.

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