iOS 6 has not yet been out for 48 hours, and already there are rumblings of trouble for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The news stems from a report in Tages-Anzeiger, a Swiss news paper, which claims that the Swiss Federal Railway Service, also known as the SSB, has claimed that Apple stole their clock design from its own trademarked design.
The design was made by Hans Hilfiker, an employee of the SSB, in 1944. The paper claims this design can be seen in rail station clocks throughout the Swiss railway system. As should be expected from the country which produces the world’s leading clocks and watches, the rail system is known for its extreme punctuality.
The Swiss paper cites a railway spokesman, who said he was actually pleased that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had used the design, but that the SSB had not authorized them to do so. While it wasn’t definitely stated in the paper, it seems a legal complaint is in the works regarding the unauthorized use.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) itself is not unaccustomed to defending its own clock designs, as they were involved in a similar incident with an app developer in 2009. Tabpots, which makes Tweetbot, along with several other iOS apps, was named by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as having used a clock icon which closely resembled the clock in Apple’s telephone app.
The legal issues regarding design infringement of late, have dealt with the patents concerning its iPhone and iPad tablet lines. The basis of its recent attack on Samsung was the fact that Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) had copied some of Apple’s designs with its own line of phones and tablet PCs. Apple even pointed out that some of the icons and apps very closely matched what they had already patented and offered to consumers. The most recent judgement in the ongoing battle awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages, though the company appears to be seeking to have that amount raised to $3 billion.
As we see Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) under the microscope for a change, it will be interesting to see the outcome of this situation. Will the Swiss railroad decide that they are glad that Apple used the design, as it could help it become a worldwide known trademark? Or, will they file suit and seek damages, or force Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to pay to use the design instead? Only time will tell. We will keep you updated here on ValueWalk, as the situation unfolds, and more information is available.