Swatch mulls suing Apple over iWatch

Swatch Group, the world’s biggest watchmaker, says it’s taking action against Apple Inc over the most valuable technology company’s use of the iWatch brand, which it says is too similar to its own iSwatch label.

Swatch’s measures may include pointing out Apple’s branding to authorities in all the countries where it has been registered as a trademark, Swatch chief executive officer Nick Hayek said in a telephone interview.

“This is the normal procedure to protect your own brand name,” Hayek said. “We react like this for all other brand names that we have protected.”

Cupertino, California-based Apple hasn’t yet disclosed any specifics for an Internet-connected wristwatch. Swatch Group, with headquarters in Biel, Switzerland, sells a digital-display model called iSwatch. Apple may be looking to make inroads on that brand name because the two are too similar, Hayek said.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple in California, declined to comment on Swatch’s challenge.

“If somebody wants to register a name that is too close to a name that we have protected, we fight against it,” Hayek said, adding there are no plans as yet to take Apple to court.

Swatch’s plans were first reported yesterday by the watson.ch Swiss news website.

iSwatch Registrations

Swatch has registered the iSwatch name in several dozen countries and wants to protect it, according to Hayek. Swatch Group owns the Swatch brand and others including Omega, Breguet, Tissot and Longines.

Apple hasn’t introduced a smartwatch yet and hasn’t officially announced that it plans to do so under the name iWatch. Apple last year applied for trade mark protection for an “iWatch” in Japan, according to a June 3 filing with the Japan Patent Office.

More than 50 companies have filed for trademark protection for the iWatch name, according to a search on the World Intellectual Property Organization website. Watson.ch reported “iWatch” was granted protection on April 1 in Monaco, while authorities in Iceland issued a preliminary rejection, citing its similarity to iSwatch.

Apple, whose $510 billion market value makes it more than 15 times bigger than Swatch, is in occasional contact with the Swiss company about new technologies, Hayek said, adding the two haven’t discussed the iWatch/iSwatch issue.

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