back to article Swiss railways ticked off at iOS clock knock-off

As hipsters and tragics queue for new iPhones, Switzerland's railway operator, SBB, has complained that Cupertino copied its design for the clock display used in iOS6. Your rounded corners might not save you: SBB's railway clock (left) and Apple's iOS6 clock icon (right) While expressing "joy" that iOS6 uses what it …

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Joke

Re: Apple copying?!

I read that mapping companies frequently include imaginary streets on their maps so that people copying them can be easily seen to be doing so - maybe that was Apple's intention, but the 'make it up' algorithm got a bit out of hand.

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Facepalm

Re: Apple copying?!

Samsung aren't making iPhones...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple copying?!

> Samsung aren't making iPhones...

That's right they just make junk.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple copying?!

"'See, we didn't copy Google Maps'"

Well, that much is true. They lifted mapping data off OSM[1]. Not that they bothered to acknowledge that much[2], but in a way it's a good thing they didn't, seeing how they have managed to mangle[3] the (old) data they used.

[1] http://blog.osmfoundation.org/2012/03/08/welcome-apple/

[2] http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/05/two-months-later-apple-acknowledges-use-of-openstreetmap-in-iphoto/

[3] https://alastaira.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/apple-maps-aka-apple-are-thieving-bastards/

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Bronze badge

tick... tock...

They don't look at all alike.

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Excellent. Hoist and petard, come to mind. Not that you can hoist yourself on a petard; unless you're really quick.

Mind you, they're quite small so hoisting could be accomplished with a reasonable amount of dispatch.

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Headmaster

Pedantry Corner

A petard is a small bomb used to blow open castle walls and gates.

"hoist by your own petard" can be translated as, "blown upwards by your own bomb", and being "really quick" (to get away) is normally something you would require to avoid enduring such a humiliating situation.

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Headmaster

Re: Pedantry Corner

I was told as a kid that "hoist your own petard" meant something along the lines of "you can carry your own bloody bomb to the castle walls sunshine. You made it, you plant it!" - similar to "you made your own bed, you lie in it." It seems to be a similar but slightly different interpretation.

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Silver badge

Re: Pedantry Corner

Indeed, but the hoisting was the part where the luckless sapper was flying through the air in, usually, a terminal and fragmented state.

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Pint

Re: Pedantry Corner

Interesting, I have never heard the phrase ""hoist your own petard" before.

Often I hear "hoist on your own petard" which is, I think, where the confusion most people have regarding this phrase comes from. Basically they don't know what a petard is and assume it is something akin to a pike, or a spear and are visualising somebody being lifted up on the end of it.

That is the only other variant I am familiar with.

The context for both of these usages (the correct and incorrect one) is the same however. I is always in my experience used to describe a situation where an agressor has damaged themselves with their own weapon.

I've never heard it in the context of "carrying your own weapon" though.

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Trollface

Re: Pedantry Corner

A petard is a small bomb used to blow open castle walls and gates.

"hoist by your own petard" can be translated as, "blown upwards by your own bomb", and being "really quick" (to get away) is normally something you would require to avoid enduring such a humiliating situation.

Sticky Jumper?

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Not on my iPhone

Weird. The Clock icon on my iPhone 4S with iOS6 doesn't look like that - neither does the one on the iPhone 5 pictures on the Apple website. They look like the one in iOS5.

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Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: Not on my iPhone

If you read the Google translation apparently it's iOS 6 for iPad.

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Happy

The train is upset

v.g.

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Thumb Down

You are mistaken.

Rule Number One: Apple owns the patent to that clock design.

If in doubt, refer to rule number one.

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Stop

Are they going to sue over these (real) clocks also?

http://www.exetercameraclub.co.uk/photo_5567261.html

The icon in question is only used on the iPad BTW

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Silver badge

Re: Are they going to sue over these (real) clocks also?

I would think Canary Wharf bought the right to use that design, or even the clocks themselves, from SBB, the same way anyone can buy an SBB-styled watch.

The complaint here is that Apple ripped off a trademarked design without permission. Trademarks begging what they are, SBB is obligated to defend it and ask for compensation.

According to Apple, well over $1 billion would be fair...

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Silver badge

Re: Are they going to sue over these (real) clocks also?

nope. Look at the picture. There is a number on each face showing. The one in question and the rip off (sure Apple will argue that one - prior art not mattering of course) don't have this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Are they going to sue over these (real) clocks also?

Timmy, I'm not a judge but I can't really imagine the number makes that much of a difference since the all other design aspects are similar. Just slapping a number in there doesn't it make it sufficiently different.

Not sure why Apple hasn't done so but it's possible they didn't think they'd need it since they're not actually making clocks, only computer representations of them. I'm also not sure what kind of protection the SBB has on the clocks, the reports mention trademark but that has many specifics regarding fields of use.

Registered designs (aka design patents) are another option however those "only" last 25 years, so not a possibility in this case.

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Anonymous Coward

only computer representations of them

So why should anybody pay Apple for, ooh lets say, slide to unlock. After all it's only a computer representation of a sliding bolt that has been used for centuries.

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Stop

Re: Are they going to sue over these (real) clocks also?

For the Fandroids and hard of thinking, the point is that this design is very little different from many other clock faces (take a look at the face of a Rolex sometime). If Apple are infringing a trademark and SBB inform them then they have three options : 1) Apologise and change the icons (not hard), 2) come to a license agreement (this could be as little as simply acknowledging the trademark) or 3) fight it in court. There's no up side for Apple to use option 3.

What cost Samsung the money was going for option 3 over 7 patents and 28 devices. One design and 2 devices would cost Apple money if they lost, but nowhere near the $1bn amount. There is no advantage in continuing to use the icon in the face of legal opposition though. The cost of legal fees would far outstrip the cost of the redesign and the image used isn't key functionality.

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Facepalm

Re: only computer representations of them

>After all it's only a computer representation of a sliding bolt that has been used for centuries.

Because Apple patented the working of a computer representation (and even then only on touchscreens), not actual sliding bolts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: only computer representations of them

Sliding bolt analogy, I would have used that first as prior art, although I suspect US judges would say doing it on a mobile is patentable...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: only computer representations of them

Apple should have been denied the patent...

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Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Are they going to sue over these (real) clocks also?

"The icon in question is only used on the iPad BTW"

Oh, that's alright, then.

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Anonymous Coward

What could happen...

The issue at stake here is trademark. Not copyright, not patents. By using an image that is a registered trade mark, creates an association between where the image is used and the company that owns the trade mark.

Whilst I'm not a lawyer, the possible outcomes are:

1. Apple does not distribute iOS6 into any country which has this trademark registered / respected.

2. Apple changes the image used.

3. Apple wins at court based on that the images are significantly different.

4. Apple licenses its use, and brands its time keeping as provided by the swiss train company.

As switzerland is particularly agressive about trade marks, and passing off issues (fake designer goods do get siezed by customs in swizterland from people visiting the country, not just commercial imports), option 1 would make me nervous to take an apple product there.

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Thumb Up

German railway clocks use(d) a similar design

But from memory, the second hand takes rather less than a minute to get around to 59, then hangs around a couple of seconds until the next minute pulse arrives. It's really quite fascinating to watch...

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Anonymous Coward

If the shoe was on the other foot...

and SSB started using a bitten apple as it's logo, I'm sure we'd see instant legal action from the fruity ones.

So play on, SSB!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If the shoe was on the other foot...

The Schweizerische Bundesbahnen is already very litigious, no need to further prod them on.

Couple of years ago they took on a UK company I worked with, over the SBB.COM domain. (the UK company's name also spelled SBB)

Schweizerische Bundesbahnen lost.

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Something fishy here...

My clock icon on my iOS 6 iPhone looks absolutely nothing like the one claimed in the article.

Sounds like someone made up a pack of lies to get some exposure.

Another clickbait Reg article?

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Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Something fishy here...

You did read the article, then?

It's the iPad version of IOS6 that uses this clock.

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Trollface

hipsters and tragics

There's a difference?

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FAIL

It's clearly different - no case here!

The minute and hour hands on the Apple version are rectangular against SBB's trapezoidal. The Apple minute hand doesn't reach the tick marks, while the SBB one sweeps over the ticks. The blob on the end of the Apple clock is rectangular against round on the SBB clock.

Distinctions of this sort would be enough to identify font designs, so why not a clock?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's clearly different - no case here!

One of Apples "complaints" against Samsung was that the phone app used a handset as its icon ... think their arguments was simply changing from a dialpad icon to a handset was evidence of copying.

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Silver badge

Re: It's clearly different - no case here!

There are a lot of differences when one looks at it but I can understand some wanting Apple to get a taste of her own medicine. Apple only won outright in an American court; the Swiss would likely lose in any.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple will sue the Swiss

....in California, and win of course.

An interesting fact about the Swiss clock is that the second hand goes round in 58 seconds and stops, giving 2 seconds for the guard to blow his whistle. That is cool.

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Coffee/keyboard

Hahaha, oh, wow...

Apple, so protective over its design patents... now it owes me a keyboard.

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Trollface

Rounded Corners

Ok I have said it....the Apple clock has rounded corners, so it must be theirs and they will sue because the Swiss have copied them by "Extending" the rounded corners in to a circle!

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Anonymous Coward

ElReg

What's special with the original design is that the second hand is running a little too fast and has to pause for a second at the top, symbolising a conductor's use of a signalling disc.

On the following page, click on "SBB Widgets" on the bottom and then "SBB Clock" there (Flash):

http://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/allgemeine-informationen/wallpaper-en/sbb-uhr.html

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Silver badge
FAIL

Re: ElReg

Then you click on 'Screensaver SBB clock Mac OS X Widget' and you find...

'New in v1.9: Recrafted the design of the clock with the valued help of Kevin to more closely resemble the iPhone iApp.'

Oops.

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Happy

Die Bahn ist verärgert.

The train is upset.

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Silver badge

Google translation chosen to make it even funnier

You never read "apple translation chosen to make it funnier"

Apple are missing a trick - soon they will sue for unfair advertising or summink

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Anonymous Coward

Looks like the clock at the local swimming baths too.

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Anonymous Coward

1944 - yes almost 70 years ago... it's not even the same...

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Anonymous Coward

Looks like a lot of clocks I have seen - do swiss railways really need the publicity?

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, apple do pay us to astroturf! It's quite lucrative actually....

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But shirley

Apple will just patent this clock design..... 'on a phone'.

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Flame

do as apple say not as they do. They'll stick 2 fingers up, brign in the big guns, get away with it, and carry on. Wankers.

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WTF?

Slightly Pointless Story About Apple

Surely no-one still uses this shit?

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Pint

Did they copy the way they animate?

Swiss railway clocks are *weird*. The second hand goes around until it reaches 12, but it seems to reach 12 too early, so it pauses - for 1 or 2 seconds - then the minute hand moves and the second hand starts off again. I'm imagining a Helvetica-wide pulse is sent to all the clocks in the country to say "now it's the next minute", so they all keep perfect time to minute accuracy.

Oddly the exact behaviour is reproduced on the digital clock images in the on-screen passenger information display. I guess the Swiss are used to it.

Also oddly, the trains in Switzerland usually arrive exactly when they're supposed to. I can get used to the clocks but this scheduling behaviour is just freakish.

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