Apple and Swatch Group head back to court over clashing marketing slogans


Swatch Group and Apple Inc. are set to clash in court again, this time over the phrasing of a marketing slogan.

A case was lodged by Apple last week with the Swiss Federal Administrative Court claiming that Swatch’s use of the term “Tick Different” on some of its watches could be confused with the “Think Different” message used by the tech giant during the 1990s.

Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek is quoted by Swiss business news site Watson that any similarity between the two messages is a coincidence. He adds that the term “Tick Different dates back to an even earlier Swatch campaign from the 1980s that used the phrase “Always different, always new”.


Swatch has so far used the words Tick Different only on its Bellamy range of watches that have built-in NFC communication for Visa payments.

Swatch Tick Different

The latest legal dispute follows a legal victory for Swatch Group last year when it prevented Apple from claiming ownership of the name iWatch.

The case heard by a UK court in September 2016 upheld Swatch’s opposition to Apple’s ‘iWatch’ trade mark application for products that Apple wanted to protect.

Swatch filed the opposition in March 2014 after Apple applied to protect the name ‘iWatch’ as a trade mark. The opposition was based on Swatch’s concern that the ‘iWatch’ name was too similar to its own ‘iSwatch’ trade mark, which is used on a Swatch watch.

Apple said at the time that it would appeal the decision because the preface of ‘i’ is widely understood as a naming convention of Apple products.

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  1. The clock ticks forward and the intellectual property wars between Apple and Swatch continue.

    It would be interesting to know whether Swatch took the time to carry out due diligence on third party rights before launching the “Tick Different” tagline. If so, it should have been aware of Apple’s registrations for “Think Different” and, given the tension between the companies of late, would have been aware that this was a ticking time-bomb!

    From a trade mark law perspective, the time since the last use of Apple’s “Think Different” could be an interesting point as, if Apple used its trade mark registrations for the mark which are over 5 years old to oppose any UK or EU trade mark applications by Swatch, Apple could be asked to prove their use of the mark in the 5 years prior to Swatch’s applications or show proper reasons for the non-use.

    Duncan Jones
    Fox Williams LLP


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