Swiss Railways clocks up agreement with Apple

Apple's use of the railway clock is now legal. Keystone

The Swiss Federal Railways and Apple have settled their dispute over the computer giant’s unauthorised use of the iconic Swiss railway clock in iPad and iPhone devices which it released in September.

This content was published on October 12, 2012 minutes and agencies

“The parties have agreed that the amount of the licensing fee and any further details on the licencing arrangement will remain confidential,” said railway spokeswoman Lea Meyer in a statement published on the company’s website on Friday.

The railway clock was created in 1944 by Swiss electrical engineer and designer Hans Hilfiker. The red second hand is in the shape of the disc which controllers previously used to signal to train drivers that they could leave.

Last month the Federal Railways said Apple’s use of the clock showed it “truly was a design classic”. 

The Design Museum in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York both included Hilfiker's clock among examples of outstanding 20th-century design.

“As a symbol of innovation and reliability it is even today an important part of the identity of the railways and of Switzerland,” the company says on its website. The Federal Railways owns the trademark and copyrights.

Swiss watchmaker Mondaine has been licensed to make wall clocks, desk models and wristwatches based on the design since 1986. Co-owner Ronnie Bernheim told the Reuters news agency that the company had not been involved in the arrangement with Apple.

“As the exclusive licence holder we are surprised to hear of the licensing agreement between the Federal Railways and Apple,” he commented, but would not say whether Mondaine would take any action about the matter.  

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