Apple’s Deal For Swiss Clock Design Breaks Mondaine’s “Exclusive” Licensing Agreement


Mondaine should have exclusive access to this design.

Apple struck a deal with Swiss railway operator SBB earlier this month that allows the Cupertino company to continue using its iconic railway clock design for the clock app on the iPad. It seems, however, that SBB may not have had the right to license its design to Apple after all.

You see, a clock and watch manufacturer called Mondaine has an exclusive license with SBB that means it should be the only company with the rights to the design. Mondaine says it was “surprised” to hear that SBB had been granted Apple a license, too.

When SBB highlighted the fact that Apple had used its iconic railway clock on the iPad without license, Apple moved quickly to put things right. Just weeks later, on October 13, SBB announced it had come to a licensing agreement with Apple that allowed it to continue using its design.

We thought that would be the end of the whole thing. But apparently not. In a press release, Mondaine insists it should be the exclusive licensee of the design:

Mondaine holds a long term exclusive licensee according to a contract with SBB to produce, distribute and market watches and clocks based on the SBB design since 1986 and got surprised to hear about a license agreement between SBB and Apple.

Mondaine co-owner Andre Bernheim played down the situation by saying: “Apple shows great taste by choosing this design for their clock on their devices, and now, the owners of Mondaine watches and clocks as well as iPad owners can even enjoy the same distinct design.”

Whether or not Mondaine will let this slide — considering it shouldn’t actually make any difference to its own products — remains to be seen. But I’ll bet it’s not happy with the SBB.

Source: Macworld

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8 responses to “Apple’s Deal For Swiss Clock Design Breaks Mondaine’s “Exclusive” Licensing Agreement”

  1. plaztiksoundz says:

    “Whether or not Mondaine will let this slide — considering it shouldn’t actually make any difference to its own products — remains to be seen.”

    SBB logic:

    Company person X – “Apple is using our railway clock design on it’s iPad clock! Infringement! People will stop buying our railway clocks? Let’s make Apple pay, or sue them!

    Company person Y – “But what about our exclusive license to Mondaine?”

    Company person X – “Fuck that! Apple has money! Exclusive licenses are worthless!”

    Had that written all over it since the beginning…

  2. Steffen Jobbs says:

    Mondaine compared to Apple is like a pimple on an elephant’s behind. I’m sure more people know of Apple than they do of Mondaine. Mondaine is likely to get more business now that the design is vaguely connected to Apple’s products. If Mondaine doesn’t like it, they can just sue SBB. It’s definitely not going to hurt Mondaine over the long run, but I think they certainly do have some legal rights of exclusivity.

  3. Brad Braddels Mace says:

    it’s irrelevant whether or not it will make a difference to their products, they have a contract and they believe it’s been broken. We all know what Apple would do

  4. Westerley says:

    “it was “surprised” to hear that SBB had been granted Apple a license, too.”

    Really? Where did you learn to write English? -_-

  5. Tcphoto1 says:

    Like the case between Apple and the fashion photographer, read the licensing agreement. There is a reason why clients pay premium fees for exclusive rights. I imagine that SBB and Mondaine will renegotiate a lower fee and Apple will be cutting a check to the photographer for not disclosing their actual usage.

  6. Len Williams says:

    Wow, this is a great example of how to make a news story out of nothing. Even the Mondaine co-owner says it’s not a problem: “the owners of Mondaine watches and clocks as well as iPad owners can even enjoy the same distinct design.” He doesn’t sound terribly upset about it at all.

    Many years ago when I was in high school I went to a week-long workshop for school newspaper editors. One of our guest lecturers was a newspaper reporter who explained that the way to write stories was to “find the conflict”. He spent considerable time forcing into our impressionable minds that if there was no conflict in a news story it was boring, and if there wasn’t any conflict we should dig harder until we found it and develop it into the main point of the story. Therefore we weren’t supposed to write about stuff like “New Vending Machines Placed in Cafeteria”. It had to be something like “Students Worry About Not Having Enough Change for New Cafeteria Vending Machines” — see, now there’s conflict and it’s “interesting.”

    So if you ever wonder why the newspapers, magazines and “news” web sites are filled with so much apparent disagreement, upset, problems and disaster, it’s because “conflict” makes interesting stories. It’s actually a bunch of hogwash.

  7. Eric says:

    Regardless of whether it affects Mondaine or not, the issue isn’t with Apple, it’s with SBB. SBB is the one that played both sides. If anyone needs to be hit it’s SBB.

  8. Nether Finlarg says:

    Here’s a new and relevant comment on an old article – It probably made no difference to Mondaine back in 2012, because the iconic clock face was only going to appear as digital facsimile on an ipad screen, which could hardly be confused with a mechanical Swiss watch. Now fast forward to 2014 – and voilá, Apple is on the verge of releasing a wrist-wearable iOS device presumably to be called the “iWatch”. So suddenly Mondaine will now be faced with a situation in which it’s iconic dial design will appear on the wrists of millions of Apple devotees around the world. This will surely dilute their brand image, and quite possibly destroy it, unless they step in and force Apple to use some other clock-face design on its iWatch. Good luck with that Mondaine, here’s hoping the SBB is on your side.

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