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‘Tick Different’ Swiss court: Swatch did not rip-off Apple’s marketing slogan

Swatch CEO Nick Hayek smokes a cigar

Have a cigar: Swatch CEO Nick Hayek has cause to celebrate a court's decision to allow his company's marketing slogan to continue.

(© Keystone / Anthony Anex)

A Swiss court has ruled in favour of watchmaker Swatch in an intellectual property dispute with Apple. The United States technology giant had complained that Swatch had ripped off its marketing slogan “Think Different”.

Apple took exception when Swatchexternal link, the largest watch producer in Switzerland, coined the term “Tick Different”. But the Federal Administrative Court has rejected the complaint, ruling that Apple’s advertising campaign slogan was not sufficiently well known in Switzerland to allow the US company to force Swatch to revoke its similar title.

“This means that the case must be dismissed,” the court said in its ruling published on Tuesday.

This is not the first time that Apple has duelled with Swiss firms over the issue of intellectual property rights. In 2012 Swiss Federal Railways complained that Apple had infringed its patent rights on its iconic Swiss clock design that hangs in stations throughout the country.

The minimalist yet distinctive clock face, created in 1944 by Swiss electrical engineer and designer Hans Hilfiker, featured on earlier versions of Apple’s iPads and iPhones. The two sides reached an out of court settlement and Apple dropped the clock on later versions of its products.

Swatch reported net sales growth of 6.1% last year to CHF8.5 billion ($8.5 billion) with net profits rising nearly 15% to CHF867 million. But the annual figures were below the expectations of analysts who warn that the company’s sales this year could be hit by a downturn in the Chinese economy.

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