Apple has not yet entered the watch business—though signs say it will—but it already has a powerful intra-industry opponent: Swatch.
The Swiss watchmaker plans to fight any registration of the term iWatch, complaining that it is too similar to its trademarked name iSwatch, a spokeswoman confirmed.
“Swatch Group registered [iSwatch] several years ago,” says spokeswoman Béatrice Howald. “It is normal practice to register brand names in order to protect them, as 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.”
Reports say that Apple has claimed the name iWatch in numerous countries, for a possible entry into the growing field of so-called smartwatches.
In the United States, Swatch has already tried to block a 2007 registration of iWatch by New York City company M.J. Berger, calling the name “confusingly similar” to its trademark. In September, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board disagreed, ruling the two terms were not similar enough to confuse consumers, but blocking Berger’s registration as there was no evidence it intended to use the trademark. Swatch is appealing the first part of the decision.
A registration has also been filed by a Delaware company named Brightflash, which Apple-watching sites like Macrumors have speculated is a shell company for the tech giant, noting the same trademark attorney has done work for both. Brightflash has since suspended its application, saying it wants time to confer with other registrants.