With the recent launch of the new iPhone 5, all eyes are on
Apple. The company is well known not only for its technological
advances, but also for frequent controversies over patent rights.
The widely discussed complaints included, amongst others, the use
of a rounded corners design. A recent court case against Samsung
Electronics won Apple $1.05 billion, following the judgement by the
U. S. court.
"The times, they are a-changin'", however
– Apple themselves might be faced with an infringement
claim. The latest clock app used in the iOS 6 operating system for
the iPad caught the attention of the Switzerland's national
rail company. Their iconic clock, created in 1944 by Hans Hilfiker,
is made up of white background, black lines indicating the numbers,
and a red second hand with a circle at the end. The design has been
heavily licensed, most notably by the watchmakers Mondaine. This
way, the brand has spread across the globe, and is seen as one of
the international symbols of the country, together with Swiss
banks, cheese, chocolate and gnomes.
A spokesman for the rail company, SBB, Reto Kormann, stated that
Apple used the design without permission. He suggested that SBB is
"proud" the design is used in the technology –
however, Apple had no license to include it in the recent app. The
German and Swiss public relations offices for Apple refused to
comment on the issue.
The latest reports suggest that Apple and SBB are negotiating an
amicable settlement and potential compensation. In order to avoid
drawing attention away from the latest products, a quick and quiet
end to the controversy would be most favourable for both technology
For the purposes of registration in the UK, a design is defined
as "the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting
from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours,
shape, texture or materials of the product or ornamentation."
When registered, it can provide protection as well as basis of
selling or licensing. Registered designs can be renewed every 5
years for up to 25 years.
Additional trademark protection may be available for an iconic
design in appropriate circumstances.
The material contained in this article is of the nature of
general comment only and does not give advice on any particular
matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information
in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice
upon their own particular circumstances.
Specific Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author.
The recent release of David Bowie's new album sent a major shock wave through the music industry and caused many 'respectable' and 'serious' programmes and publications to fall over themselves in fawning admiration.
Advertising used to be about informing consumers where the products they purchased came from and which person or corporation was responsible for their manufacture. However, over the past 50-60 years, advertisers have been striving to give brands an image or identity, which induces consumers to buy the brand as much as the underlying product to which it is affixed.