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Now in its twelfth year, Class 46 is dedicated to European trade mark law and practice. This weblog is written by a team of enthusiasts who want to spread the word and share their thoughts with others.

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Switzerland: Apple Watch and a "patent" from 1985

As some news sources - among them Reuters - breathlessly report, the launch of the Apple Watch "may be" delayed in Switzerland because of an alleged "patent" held by Leonard Timepieces SA since 1985.

Now, for those even remotely familiar with patent law, a "patent" from 1985 still valid in 2015 sounds awfully strange. And indeed, the popular media - not for the first time - can't tell a patent from a trade mark. Leonard Timepieces SA since 1985 holds a figurative Swiss trade mark (depicted above) claiming protection for watches in Nice class 14 that contains the word "APPLE" and looks awfully close to the Apple logo (P-343 807 if you want to search on Swissreg). The registration expires in December 2015, but being a trade mark registration, may of course be extended by payment of the required fee. Apple's own registrations in class 14 (four of them) in Switzerland have not matured to registration yet.

So, is Apple, Inc., blocked from launching its watch on the Swiss market? Well, firstly, it does not appear that there is any injunction so far. Secondly, it appears highly doubtful that the 1985 registration for "Apple" in class 14 has been used in commerce in the last five years. If not, the mark is liable for cancellation for non-use. Should the mark, however, be used, then the fact that the Apple watch may be a "wrist terminal" rather than a watch will hardly prevent a likelihood of confusion (as some speculate). The Coase Theorem will nonetheless ensure that Apple will, sooner or later, sell its watch under the Apple brand in Switzerland. 

Posted by: Mark Schweizer @ 15.01
Tags: Switzerland, relative grounds of refusal,
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