Apple, which is currently suing the world+dog for stealing its ideas, has had to pay up for nicking the idea of a clock from Swiss railway operator SBB.
SBB holds the trademark for a 1944 design by Zurich-born engineer Hans Hilfiker. It hinted that it might sue Apple after the clock appeared on a new operating system for the iPad.
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. Apple appears to have decided that it was not going to get away with standing up in court and claiming it invented the clock like it did with the rounded rectangle. It dispatched a team of lawyers to negotiate a licence.
Apparently SBB was ok with that and negotiated an arrangement that lets Apple use the SBB station clock under a licence agreement.
It is not saying how much Apple had to pay. If you sign any deal with Apple it has to remain confidential or its reality distortion field will implode and people will realise how clever the company really isn’t.
What is amazing is that Apple thought it would get away with the use of someone else’s iconic design.
The clock is famous even in the digital age. It symbolises the innovation and reliability that are key qualities attributed to both SBB and Switzerland as a whole, SSB pointed out.
Hilfiker designed the minimalist clock to help travellers check the time at a distance. In 1953, he added a red second hand in the shape of a railway guard’s signalling disk, which pauses briefly at the top of each minute “to enable trains to depart punctually”.
The licence is also owned by Mondaine Group which uses it to make clocks and wristwatches for consumers based on the design classic.
But the company said it did not hear about the deal until Reuters got on the blower.
It thought it was an exclusive licensee but did not say if it was considering legal action of its own.