Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Court Rules Apple Can't Use "Watch" in Apple Watch Name

The European Court of Justice ruled today that Apple violated Swiss trademarks by using "Watch" in the name of its Apple Watch.*

It's a watch! But an Apple Watch can no longer
be called a watch
In a case that was reminiscent of the 2013 trademark dispute between British Sky Broadcasting over the name SkyDrive, which BSkyB had trademarked and which Microsoft appropriated, Apple must now change the name of its watch, just as Microsoft changed SkyDrive to OneDrive.

"This is a victory for watchmakers, watch tradition and for the general public, which for a hundred years have thought of watches as having dials and numbers, not shiny screens and microchips," said Jean Noutte, a lawyer for Swatch and other Swiss watchmakers, as he left the courtroom. "Watches are beautiful things; they are not computers. Watches should tell the time, not the news."

The Court's decision set two new precedents. The Court expanded the concept of Protected Designation of Origin, the kind of protection that Champagne gets, and why anything that's not made in the Champagne region of France and has alcohol and bubbles is called "sparkling wine." The Court combined the legal precedent of Protected Designation of Origin with traditional trademark protection to create a new legal protection, which requires that all products that are called a certain thing meet certain minimum criteria.

The European Court of Justice ruled that for an item to be a called a watch, the product must:

1. have telling the time as its main function.

2. be able to tell the time without being tethered to another electronic device.

3. if powered by a battery, have a battery that lasts more than 365 days and is replaceable.

4. if it performs functions other than just telling the time—that is, if it has "complications"—the complications must come from a list of those approved by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. The news and messages are not on that list.

Apple said that it will change the name of its product. Several possible candidates include Apple Wrist Mac, Apple Little TV, Apple Smart Wrist, and Apple iWrist.

Samsung, Motorola, and other smartwatch companies had no comment, although this ruling will affect them, too.

*A little wristwatch humor


  1. Ooh, I'd love to see this go viral. You had me until the very end :)

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