NEWS : Apple loses legal battle with Swatch over ‘one more thing’ trademark

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that Apple lost its battle to stop Swatch AG from using the phrase ‘one more thing’ in Australia.

Originally popularised in the television series ‘Columbo’ by Peter Falk, who played the eponymous lead, Swatch AG had successfully trademarked the phrase ‘one more thing’ originally in Switzerland in 2014, to which it had been unsuccessfully challenged by Apple in 2015.

The phrase had been successfully trademarked by Swatch AG in Australia in 2015.

Apple argued to the Australian Trade Marks Office that Swatch AG should not be allowed to use the phrase as it was synonymous with Steve Jobs. Jobs, who had used it a number of times during ‘Keynote’ presentations, as did Tim Cook. They stated that in their view, Swatch should not be allowed to use its trademark over the phrase, and applied for its own trademark.

Swatch, who used “one more thing” phrase to launch a “film noir inspired set” of watches, said that its use of the phrase was inspired by Columbo.

In decision reference 2019 ATMO 19, hearing officer Adrian Richards agreed with Swatch AG, ruling that “These words, used once before introducing a particular new product or service of the opponent [Apple], are then never used again in relation to that product or service”, that “patchy and temporary” use of a phrase does not satisfy the “character of indication of a trade source”, and the importance of the “ordinary meaning” of this phrase, which is a general indication that a speaker has not yet finished speaking.

For those who are interested in intellectual property law, Apple’s objections were brought under Regulation 17A.29 of the Trade Marks Regulations 1995 (Cth) – grounds of opposition under sections 42(b), 58, 59, 60 and 62A. If you want to look at all of Swatch AG’s trademarks in Australia, go to this link at IP Australia.

A number of years back, Apple ended up paying 20 million CHF after its own intellectual property woes with the Swiss Federal Railway SBB.

Categories: Ephemera, Industry news, Swatch, watches

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