Apple Agrees To Pay Swiss Federal Railway Service For Purloined iOS 6 Clock Design

Apple Agrees To Pay Swiss Federal Railway Service For Purloined iOS 6 Clock Design

What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. Apple gives other companies a lot of flack for ripping off their intellectual property, but in iOS 6, they ripped off the design of a classic clock designed by Hans Hilfiker which has been both trademarked and copyrighted by the Swiss Federal Railway Service.

It seems unlikely that the transgression was willful, but it was still sloppy of Apple to not do their due dilligence when it came to researching the clock, or seeing if its design was trademarked.

Luckily, Apple has now chosen to do the right thing, having reached out to to the Swiss Federal Railway Service, who today announced that the companies have signed a licensing deal for the famous clock. It’s unknown what the terms are, but it’s good to see Cupertino do the right thing here.

  • Jonathan Ober

    The times (in this photo) are obviously different…so…

  • rlowe

    Well, Apple has to do the “right thing” unless they want to mess up with EU.

  • Len Williams

    Herein lies the difference between Apple and Samsung (and Google’s Android for that matter): Apple’s designers created a clock face that is very similar to an existing Swiss Federal Railway design. Did they try to pretend that it never happened or raise a fuss that “you can’t copyright a circle, black sticks and a red stick with a ball on the end”? Nope, they researched and found that the Swiss clock patent existed and was valid, and then licensed the design from the copyright holder. They abided by copyright law and didn’t infringe on the Swiss Railway’s registered property. Simple. They followed the law.

  • wdowell

    The right thing to do would have been to speak to sbb before releasing a blatant copy!

  • Dutch_Viking

    Well, I think Apple has done the right thing. I am the proud owner of an official Swiss railway watch (made by the official licensee – Mondaine) – and it felt wrong when I saw that Apple had copied the design. Although, I think the original version is much better balanced in its design than Apple’s design.
    And that, finding Apple’s designs generally most beautiful!

  • RaptorOO7

    Herein lies the difference between Apple and Samsung (and Google’s Android for that matter): Apple’s designers created a clock face that is very similar to an existing Swiss Federal Railway design. Did they try to pretend that it never happened or raise a fuss that “you can’t copyright a circle, black sticks and a red stick with a ball on the end”? Nope, they researched and found that the Swiss clock patent existed and was valid, and then licensed the design from the copyright holder. They abided by copyright law and didn’t infringe on the Swiss Railway’s registered property. Simple. They followed the law.

    I do enjoy how you are defending Apple’s back asswards attempt to cover themselves in the press and eyes of their loyal users. They took a well known design and ripped it off, they did not contact SBB prior to iOS 6 release or the clocks design going into it. SBB found out about it, made it clear that Apple did NOT contact them OR OFFER to license it from them.

    They contacted Apple and politely (as only the Swiss can do) cleared their throats and made Apple aware of it. Apple so quickly realized that flattery was NOT going to work and their typical you should be happy we stole your copyrighted work and be away with you little child.

    No Apple took what wasn’t theirs, they were caught, they had a choice to license it (after being outed) or likely face litigation. I would have preferred litigation on this so Apple could be called out on their behavior and let the world know they clearly do take without permission what is not theirs to have.

  • site7000

    I cannot stand this unbelievable arrogance of Apple — that they basically say to whomever they copy/plagiarize from “you should be proud we, the great Apple, stole from you”.
    Unbelievable. So glad I could convince my girlfriend to purchase a Samsung Galaxy S3 instead of an iPhone 5.

    Maybe not the all-time most illogical anti-Apple rant, but close. Apple promptly paid the license. No fuss; no fuming, no arrogance. Your beloved Samsung copied everything they possibly could from the iPhone, down to the packaging and advertising, refused a license deal, spent many millions going to court, were found completely guilty and are now whining and refusing to pay. That’s the company you convinced your girlfriend is more honorable. You obviously have issues with Apple, but they aren’t based on principle and it’s unlikely you know what they are.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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