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back to article What a clockup! Apple's Swiss clock knock-off clocks up $21m fine

Apple has paid 20m Swiss francs (£13m, $21m) to Switzerland's national railway operator, which holds the rights to the distinctive clock-face design used in the new iPad. Last month Apple agreed to shell out for a licence, but the multi-million-dollar cost only emerged yesterday in a report by Swiss paper Tages-Anzeiger. Swiss …

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"just the ticket"

But to where, at least in Switzerland you'll get there...

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Anonymous Coward

Paltry

I'd have demanded more, though how do you quantify how much a clock is worth.

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Coat

Re: Paltry

"I'd have demanded more, though how do you quantify how much a clock is worth."

Depends if you're buying second hand...

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Toot Toot!

Here's a coal spark in your eye apple, let's hope some reality lensed safety specs are on their shopping list.

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Re: Toot Toot!

More likely an electrical sparkle, as they had electrified a large part their railways by the middle of the 20th century.

Bizarrely (due to coal shortages whilst the rest of Europe was in the midst of WWII) they even put electrical elements in some of their old steam engines! See the splendid Douglas Self:

http://www.douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/LOCOLOCO/swisselec/swisselc.htm

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Blimey - that's so exact a copy, some Apple bod must have been on his hols in Switzerland and thought 'That looks cool, I'll use that'

But then, who would have thought you could have 'rights' to the design of a clock face.

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who would have thought you could have rights to a rectangle?

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Anonymous Coward

Erm, Swatch, Rolex or any of the other watch makers. Design patents are common, if you can't protect the look and feel of your product then the door is open to people copying all your hard work like Samdung does.

http://http://www.ipo.gov.uk/d-needreg.htm

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Anonymous Coward

To imitate the usual posting tone of the fandroids on here when Apple is suing for similar things:

"It's obvious, all they've done is stick a large dot on the second hand to make it more visible. How else are you going to make the second hand more visible?"

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16

I think you guys have missed the obvious sarcasm.

As title.

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Go

Or just looked at his MONDAINE wristwatch

Like the one I've had for years.

It has an infinite number of rounded corners, y'know.

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LDS
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Yes, but you can't register "a round object to show the time". Which is what actually apple is trying to register against Samsung, a rectangular shape with a screen. SSBB registered a given design of a clock - but there are countless round clocks with hands to show time. I've one at my wrist now, it's round, it has hands, but SSBB can't sue its designer.

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FAIL

@AC 16:50 "open to people copying all your hard work like Samdung does"

Nice of the Fanbois to prove his own argument. Swatch, Rolex et al have decades of design work in their product, a history of design that repeats their design elements for over a century.

Tablet design on the other hand is 30 years old (I'm making the leap of faith from Star Trek:TNG tablets), and Apple has no proven track record of "design elements" that gives them any rights to "the design". Apple entered the market less than 5 years ago, and it could be argued they copied the "design" of several other tablets before them.

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Mushroom

Sod the clock - whats this profit

WHAT - A public train service makes a profit??

And it runs on time, and never seems to have the wrong sort of snow?

COME ON NETWORK SOUTHEAST - Get your act together, and find out how!!!!

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Re: Sod the clock - whats this profit

"WHAT - A public train service makes a profit?? ... COME ON NETWORK SOUTHEAST - Get your act together, and find out how!!!!"

Heh, the SBB actually looked at expanding to England. After looking at the regulatory environment and other considerations, they gave up on the idea.

It's probably good they didn't. The Swiss have a good reputation for running things efficiently in Switzerland, where everything else also runs efficiently and there is little bad blood between labour and business. When they get out of their element, things inevitably go wrong.

The national enterprises (airlines, telephone, rail, post) periodically get paranoid about serving only the small Swiss market, worried that they won't be able to compete with European or global competitors. If they're sitting on a pile of accumulated cash, it starts burning a hole in their pocket. With a CEO who dreams of being a big fish in a big pond (so that he/she can pull down those 20 million bonuses like the other big boys) the enterprise tries to go international. Since successful companies are already their competitors and are too big and expensive to buy, or may be foreign government owned and not for sale, they go shopping for something cheap, like a money losing company with overpaid union workers, which they buy thinking they can turn things around. The daughter company sucks out all of the spare cash and then some, and continues to fail.

Swissair, after starting with a pile of cash, invested in some foreign airlines (KLM? I forget...) managed to go bankrupt, was embarrassingly grounded, got reconstituted with several billion francs of taxpayer money and investments from banks whose arms were twisted by the Swiss government, went back to the same money losing strategy, went bankrupt AGAIN a couple of years later, and finally was sold to Luthansa for one buck, after which the unions took a hit, and Lufthansa turned it around.

That's just one example. I believe Swisscom overpaid for an ISP in Italy.

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Re the usual two snarky comments

Firstly "Leaves on the line"

This is not an indication of the rail company being surprised by Autumn, but that there are cutbacks on track side maintenance. They used to clear overhanging trees, that was deemed to expensive, so they are not.

Expected results, leaves fall, tracks get slippy. Better answer, cut back trees, no leaves

Secondly "wrong kind of snow"

Not a surprise at winter. SNow in the UK is usually formed of big, wet flakes. That year it was artic snow, very fine and powdery. It got in the points, jamming them and shorted electrics too. Snowploughs not as effective.

Now you may be none the wiser, but you are better informed

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Happy

Re: Re the usual two snarky comments

And it's "Arctic", not "artic", which is short for "articulated". So now you are a little better informed too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: leaves and snow

I think the concern of many passengers about both issues was not that the traveling public should gain a wider understanding of the kinds of snow that fall or the effect of autumn upon deciduous trees, but that British Rail developed trains that failed when there were leaves on the line and the wrong kind of snow without discovering the impact of either until the units were in service - the customer was final testing, and that's not so popular in public transport as it is in IT

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Re: leaves and snow

As a former UK'er now in CH, I find all these excuses amusing. Wrong type of snow? Trees dropping leaves on the line? Pfft.

The reason the SBB is so consistent is that they actually clear and maintain the lines - daily and overnight if required. There is no magic or fancy tricks.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: leaves and snow

Blimey - next they will be scrubbing their hospitals down with bleach :P

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Re: Re the usual two snarky comments

@Saucerhead Thorpe

'Leaves on the Line' - also a result of the switch from clasp brakes to disc brakes on suburban stock. The old brakes used to clean the wheels.

Phil.

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Headmaster

Re: Re the usual two snarky comments

And it's slippery, not "slippy"

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Re: Re the usual two snarky comments

@Saucerhead Tharpe

Being able to explain something is not the same as being able to excuse it

The public don't care about the internal wrangling about leaf cutting cut-backs (pun intended), they care the piss up in a brewery failure train service doesn't run, being able to point the finger at people within the train service doesn't help, blamestorming makes it worse. Same goes for "wrong type of snow" just because something is unusual it doesn't mean it's not predictable, or that it can't be coped with - as, point in case it is dealt with in other countries (and "unusual" doesn't mean it hasn't happened before).

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Re: leaves and snow

But in the UK you cant afford to clear the tracks at night as that would require management supervision of staff and their union the CBI has forced their labour costs through the roof. When they;re paid 300 times the rate of labourers you just cant justify one managing 10 men and a shovel.

Oh, and they forgot to get the government to provide an open ended grant for this at privatisation.

So get a taxi if your chauffeur is busy. Don't laugh - work out how much it would cost to get someone on minimum wage to drive you to and from the pub - or work.

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Holmes

Re: Sod the clock - @ I Am Spartacus

"WHAT - A public train service makes a profit?? COME ON NETWORK SOUTHEAST - Get your act together, and find out how!!!!"

I'll tell you how: On 2010-ish data, Swiss Railways income is 25% above the combined UK rail industry's income (that's gross revenues per passenger km). I've not adjusted for freight traffic because ICBA, but my fag packet calculations suggest that would actually increase the difference by a few per cent.

So if you want Swiss style railways, no problem, we do know how it is done, and it involves paying out 25% more than at present. With UK government rail support to the tune of about a third of the total, to raise 25% of gross revenues through fare and freight increases would require the rail user to see a circa 35% increase on tickets.

Go sell that one to Network Southeast's punters!

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Meh

Re: Sod the clock - @ I Am Spartacus

Swiss Rail fares are refreshingly cheap once you have invested in discount card - 50% off.

While in the UK I am forced at wallet-point to use the car as soon as it's 2 people traveling.

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Devil

So the real story is

That Apple steal first then pay up when caught.

The halo is down around the ankles by now.

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MrT
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Tick follows tock...

... follows tick follows tock - itjust keeps doing what it has always done. And the clock is pretty methodical too.

Sadly, Apple don't hold exclusive rights to that business model.

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Pint

Hmm

Not a great friend of overly litigating Sons of God companies like Apple but how long (too long) can you actually own a design/patent like this. I think it is getting silly, then again I have to assume Apple knew what they where copying and with the amount of lawyers they use, perhaps those lawyers should be given some magical mirror to help them look at what Apple is copying themselves, even free of charge (haa ha).

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Re: Hmm

The point is that it's not a "design/patent" - it is a design, which is entirely different from a patent. A patent is an inventive step which allows you to capitalise on it without being copied, but also to allows the rest of the world to learn about it, to further the progress of technology and use it after it expires. A design is not an inventive step, so going through a formal procedure of publishing it does not progress technology. Besides which, a design is self-evident so publishing it would be pointless. It is a means of identifying you against imitators, so having it expire would only allow those imitators to feed off your reputation and/or marketing spend.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

I'm not sure that having a white face with the minutes marked by short black lines and hours by longer black lines is that unique.

The red second-hand, also not very unique. The red ball might be slightly more unusual.

While there are definite similarities, I'm not convinced the swiss should get protection any more than apple get for their rectangle.

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What's mine is mine, what's yours is mine

That seems to be Apple's attitude to everyone else's IP.

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Thumb Up

I guess...

.. "Just change all your clocks. Not that big of a deal" didn't go down too well.

And I wonder how much of Apple's stash is looked after by the Gnomes of Zurich...?

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Joke

I don't care where the red dot goes . . .

. . . I just want to know why it's called the second hand when it's clearly the third hand.

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Re: I don't care where the red dot goes . . .

You're assuming they number from one...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't care where the red dot goes . . .

"You're assuming they number from one..."

Presumably the IT angle is that they could be numbered zero, one, two? The ordinal and cardinal are not the same. Zero is a cardinal number - but would be the ordinal "first" - so for that sequence then the hand numbered two is still "third".

For the seconds hand to be "second" then one of the other hands has to be numbered out of the logical sequence of position or time interval.

However - the time interval of a second IS based on a count of "second". It is the "second" division of an hour by 60. ...or so Wikipedia says.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ordinals

You could choose to call the hand in position zero the "zeroth" hand. Not an entirely new convention.

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FAIL

Weird that they didn't license it in the first place

I was surprised when I saw the Mondaine clock show up in iOS6 - it is so obviously similar to the classic Swiss railway clock design, which is very well known (at least among design people), and the Swiss Railway licensing guys are well-known to be litigious about people using the design in any way, that I assumed that Apple had actually licensed it already. I can't believe they thought they would get away with ripping this one off.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Weird that they didn't license it in the first place

Apple forgot to patent the circle

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Boffin

Re: Weird that they didn't license it in the first place

Surely a circle is the limiting case of a rectangle with rounded corners?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Weird that they didn't license it in the first place

Too bad they didn't manage to get a ban on imports citing financial harm...

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WTF?

Re: Weird that they didn't license it in the first place

I was surprised they bothered to Photoshop out the clock makers name.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Weird that they didn't license it in the first place

Not like them at all... </troll>

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Facepalm

"Sic transit gloria money."

20m Swiss francs = $21m.

Now one Swiss franc is worth more than one dollar. Anybody know since when?

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Re: "Sic transit gloria money."

Since years. The highest it got was about CHF 0.78 = USD 1

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Facepalm

@ Scott Pedigo

" The Canadian dollar in 2007-08 and the Swiss franc in 2008 briefly had a higher value than the U.S. dollar but both again became lower valued after the great U.S. dollar rally of late 2008 and early 2009.

Now however both the Canadian dollar and the Swiss franc has regained a higher value than the U.S. dollar. Furthermore, the Australian dollar has also gained a higher value than the U.S. dollar.

As a result there are now 5 major currencies with a higher value than the U.S. dollar, namely the British pound, the euro, the Swiss franc, the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar."

I thought all the action would be in the yuan. Duh.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Scott Pedigo

never the see the high days of £1 to $5 again though

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Bronze badge

Sic transit gloria …

Something like Sic transit gloria Americanarum Civitatum Fœderatarum might be closer to the mark. Or the dollar, for that matter.

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