ZURICH — Swatch Group confirmed its determination to vigorously defend trademark rights linked to its iSwatch label, amid concerns about confusion with Apple’s widely expected iWatch product.
“It is normal practice to register brand names, so that they are protected. And it is also normal practice that one continues to monitor ongoing registrations where similar-sounding names are registered and, where necessary, to oppose such registration,” said Serena Chiesura, the Swiss watch group’s head of corporate communications.
The comments followed Swiss media reports that Swatch Group had taken steps against the manufacturer of the iconic iPhone and iPad in numerous countries where Apple had registered the iWatch trademark. It is understood Swatch Group considers the two names barely distinguishable and would create confusion on the market.
Swatch Group, maker of famous mechanical timepieces such as Breguet and Blancpain as well as the ubiquitous Swatch, clarified its position after chief executive Nick Hayek denied to Bloomberg news agency it had taken “legal action” against Apple.
“In legal departments, this is daily business,” Chiesura told WWD. “In no way is this a legal procedure directed against Apple. There has been no correspondence with Apple and we are not otherwise in contact with Apple in this regard.”
Chiesura declined to specify in exactly which countries steps had been taken. The iSwatch trademark has been registered in about 80 territories, with initial registrations going back to 2008. About 30 additional countries were added in 2013, according to the Swiss reports.
Swiss watchmakers have been gripped by speculation and fear about the imminent introduction of an iWatch. The mooted Apple product would presumably combine aspects of the U.S. firm’s existing gadgets with smaller size and wearability.