Face-Off: Swatch Sues Samsung Over Smartwatch Apps

Ten Swatch Group-owned watch brands have filed suit against Samsung Electronics, claiming smartwatch faces available at its Galaxy Apps store “unabashedly copy” their trademarks.

The Galaxy Apps store “offer[s] numerous watch faces that bear identical (or virtually identical) marks to [Swatch Group] trademarks,” says the Swatch Group companies’ Feb. 22 filing in New York federal court, which can be downloaded here. “Consumers and the general public are deceived into believing that the Samsung Smartwatches are actually products of the Swatch Group companies or are endorsed by, sponsored by, or affiliated with the Swatch Group companies.”

It further claims that “many of the watch faces that [the apps store] offer[s] misappropriate not only the Trademarks, but also the Swatch Group Companies’ exclusive designs.”

Swatch believes that, since December 2016, the apps store has made available at least 30 watch faces that have violated Swatch’s trademarks.

Here are two purported examples from its legal papers:

Watch faces
Watch faces from Swatch legal papers

Swatch says that it first complained to Samsung’s Swiss subsidiary on Dec. 21. Samsung responded about a month later that it had removed the apps in question.

But Swatch griped that Samsung’s response referred to “alleged infringement” and asserted that Samsung has no control over third-party apps.

“Samsung’s own agreements with developers make clear that Samsung reviews and validates all apps,” says Swatch.

Samsung also “failed to confirm that it would review the remainder of its catalog to identify and remove any other infringing watch faces, and failed to provide any assurances that it would discontinue validating and distributing infringing watch faces in the future,” says Swatch’s complaint.

It also charges that new infringing faces appeared in the Galaxy Apps store following Samsung’s initial response on Jan. 7.

When it complained again, Samsung told Swatch that it had “deleted some but not all” of the contested faces from the store, Swatch says.

Along with Swatch, the filing lists as plaintiffs Montres Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütter Uhrenbetrieb, Montres Jaquet Droz, Omega, Francillon, Tissot, Mido, and Hamilton International.

The suit charges trademark infringement, unfair competition, unjust enrichment, among other counts. It seeks injunctive relief and unspecified damages and attorney’s fees. It also asks that Samsung provide to Swatch the number of downloads of any infringing apps, as well as the names of their developers.

At press time, Samsung had not responded to the complaint. It did not respond to a request for comment. Swatch’s lawyer did not return a request for comment from JCK.

In 2017, Swatch announced it was making its own smartwatch.

(Top image courtesy of Samsung)

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JCK News Director

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