Apple Accused Of Copying iPad Clock Design

iOS 6 finally brings a clock application to the iPad, but Apple apparently copied the design from an iconic station clock belonging to the Swiss Federal Railway. If you compare an image of the Swiss clock with an image of the new Clock app in iOS 6, there's no denying the resemblance.

Swiss newspaper Blick reports that the iconic clock was originally designed by Hans Hilfiker in 1944. The railway owns both the trademark and copyright for the design, which it licenses to fancy watchmakers.

According to the report, the railway is demanding financial compensation from Apple for using the clock's design without permission. Considering how many devices already use iOS 6, that could mean big trouble for Apple. Fair is fair! Apple just won a billion dollars from Samsung for exactly this kind of copying. Let's see how Apple likes being on the other end of the stick. [Blick via MacRumors]

Image: Swiss clock via the Wikimedia Commons




      Apple came up with the design first, they just didn't implement it until now.

        Yeah, Apple came up with the design in 1943

          Actually it was 1903

            It's just irrefutable proof that in the future, Apple invents the iTimeMachine and visits the distant past to influence the design of the original Swiss clock in 1903. As a result, the design actually belongs to Apple and the Swiss Railroad has been infringing on it for almost 110 years now.

              You think these cell phone suits are bad, read up on the patent fights over the original telephone, incandescent light bulb or when Marconi stole the radio from Tesla.

            This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    time for the swiss to go nuclear!

    I hate the pettyness of it all.

      Your right, but just sit back and watch the show - I wanna see how ridiculous these corporate lawyers can get! Would be funny if they all started sueing each other for wearing the same suits!

      I like it - i hope that Apple burn for it.

    It's a small thing really, Apple will no doubt change the design of the clock quickly and then Apple will continue on being who they are

      So its ok if Apple breaches someone's copyright so long as they fix it if they get caught?

    Apple, how does that medicine taste?

    What clock app? The clock in iO6 doesn't look any different to me. And definitely nothing like the Swiss railway clock.

      Apparently this is the iPad version of iOS, which until now hasn't had a Clock app like the iPhone has.

      I didn't know that style of clockface was trademarked. When you see it all over the place you start to assume it's just traditional, or a genericised trademark like rollerblade or escalator. I suspect that Apple will just change it in 6.0.1 and maybe pay a small fee to shut them up.

      It's the clock app on the iPad, not the iPhone. It's identical to the Swiss Railways clockface. Read the article before making stupid comments. Then make stupid comments

    I wish Apple made clocks

      I'm just glad apple didn't invent the Swiss Railway!

    This shit is getting ridiculous.

      would you say that, said shit is bananas?

      Also im all for other companies pulling what im terming "an apple" move, if apple can be tedious in court why cant other companies protect there designs?

    Far out... When I design software the last thing I do is compare my clock, or button, or icons with the millions in existence. This is not good news and, not because I'm taking Apples side, they're incredibly ridiculous with patents, it's just because, from a developers point of view, how unique can you make a clock?

      Apple took Samsang to court of little things like icons so I wouldn't take Apple's side in this one when they have been doing it a lot themselves in the last few years

      agree on how unique can 1 make a clock to look these days... but i think it's besides the point... the fact that Apple has been going strong at fighting these patents matters, and now .. they have done something without permission of the copyright holder... just seems rather hypocritical. By the end of the day.. Copyrighted product is still Copyrighted, no matter how small it is. Just saying.

        This clock is famous and every designer would be aware of it. When I saw the new clock I said "Hey, it's the Swiss Railway Clock, neat!", however, it is copied all the time by everyone who wants people to say "Hey, it's the swiss railway clock, neat!". I had no idea it was still copyright. If apple wanted to rip someone off, they wouldn't pick one of the world's most famous clock faces to do it, so I'm guessing this just slipped through the legal net. Especially as all they need to do is take the red ball off the second hand and they're pretty much home free.

          then so be it.. take the red ball off, all the better for everyone involved and done. Just don't go around and copying the design to the details .. and expect it to not breach any trademark/copyright law and expect to let it just slide through the system unnoticed, when the face of the clock is clearly well-known. Again, considering it's about the intelligent property... the Swiss railway have every right to take this matter further. so really.. don't copy it if they don't want to pay the price, as simple as that.

      How unique can you make a touch phone? Your argument is just a double standard on Apple's lawsuit on Samsung. Apple patented rectangular shape with curved edges and a touch screen, which, comparatively in this situation, more like the Swiss railway company patenting the form factor of having indicators (one or multiple) showing the time through a marked backing.

      I am assuming that the company's patents are for the iconic red dotted second hand and maybe the bar markings of the clock face, which apple copied 100%.

      Just sit back and laugh at the ridiculous farce that ensures and already has. If you care enough to not want to watch the world burn then start something that fixes the patent system , which apple abused because it was abusable.

        I think you're missing my point. My point is, I'm a software/website designer. I design and put a random clock widget in my software. The clock widget looks similar to the one above, but I've never seen it before, and I don't churn through every record of clock patents to find out if it's breached... There's just soooo much patents, it'd be impossible to check them all. Apples screwing the world over, or teaching it a lesson - I can't tell.

          And I think you're missing the point. It's absurd to suggest Apple's designers came up with pretty much the exact same clock face independently. Apple prides themselves on slick, high-end design and things like that clock face design are commonly accepted as classic high-end design. It's ridiculous to think they weren't, at minimum, aware of it and, in all likelihood, based their clock specifically on it. The point is that they specifically and obviously copied an existing and trademarked design without any approval, acknowledgement or credit.

          And for those who say "they're using the design in software, not hardware, so trademarks don't apple", you're also totally off base. A trademarked design is protected regardless of the medium of reproduction. A software company can't create and sell a car racing game featuring specific car models from Porche, Ferrari, etc. without permission and, surly, paying licensing fees. Neither can someone make stuffed animals based on Pixar characters simply because they're producing physical goods as opposed to a digital movie.

          I will agree that this all becomes absurd and petty at some point, but this is the path Apple has taken with their dubiously trademarked designs, so they certainly should be expected to hold to the same standard.


    I don't know you get comments in white noise about Giz is going to delete the comments with derogatory terms and we feed the trolls with articles like this. Makes my laugh

    Ahahhaaha wonder if anybody would have noticed if Apple hadn't been dicks about design in the first place? I'm sure now every little thing hey do will come under close scrutiny. Let's see how this plays out...

    Just buy the swiss railway.


      Why not cut out the middle-man and just buy Switzerland!

    I wonder how much the licencing costs are, and whether Apple will keep the design and pay for it (they do like their iconic Swiss designs), or just change it.

    To be fair this is a pretty localised case but it's still a trademark case. This is fair game for the Railway. They will probably take an out of court settlement that eases up their budget, get few new shiny things and move on.

    "At Apple, we value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth," Apple said in a statement. "We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy."

    Gotta pay to play..

    Excuse me but they are completely different.

    The one on the left has a time of 12:40:46 where the one of the right has a time of 7:22:09.

    Completely different!


    "Let’s see how Apple likes being on the other end of the stick" you say it as if Apple is the only company that sues other companies over copyrights. They're all suing each other these days, its not exclusive to apple.

    A design from 1944 is still protected... I thought these things are supposed to expire?

      Question: How long does a trademark registration last?

      Answer: Unlike copyrights or patents, trademark registration rights can last indefinitely if the owner continues to use the mark to identify goods or services.

    I guess given a large part of the Samsung v Apple case was about 'copying' icons this wholethings seems pretty legitimate to me. What comes around goes around .....

      yep, you got that right. and it's funny when people starts to defend Apple, and indicating.. "that's ok, it's a minor thing... should just let them slide off", and goes to say "Especially as all they need to do is take the red ball off the second hand and they’re pretty much home free." ... well.. why couldn't they do that to start with ?? as you said, what comes around goes around.

    They are clearly different. The railway clock reads 12:40 and the iOS6 clock reads 7:22 ;)

    I find it somewhat amusing that the people who criticised apple for their lawsuits so loudly are now strongly advocating that an equally frivolous lawsuit is OK against Apple. Hey either it's right or it's wrong. By promoting someone else's lawsuit you are therefore defending Apple's right to do the same. Personally, I think they are all a load of crap. This is a company still expecting to make money of the work of a man who is long dead. It's his iconic design, his creativity and now some fat cat in a suit (and his equally fat lawyer) is reaping the rewards. F##k that!

    Somewhere in Cupertino an Apple employee just got fired.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now