Apple to Pay Swiss Federal Railway System Millions for Use of Pretty Clock Design on iPhone

By Tracey E. Schelmetic November 13, 2012

If you’re an iPhone or iPad Mini user, you may be noticing a new clock design on your phone. Pretty, isn’t it? It had better be: Apple paid a fortune for it.

When the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini first debuted, officials at the Swiss Federal Railway service (SBB) saw something familiar in the virtual clock. The company accused Apple of copying their iconic clock design by using it in the iOS 6 clock application. (To be fair, the designs are EXTREMELY similar.)

Apple quickly invited SBB into a meeting to resolve the issue. Today, Apple says it has agreed to pay the SBB to license the clock design. While neither SBB nor Apple are disclosing any price tags, a Swiss daily newspaper has reported that Apple will be forking over $21 million to SBB for the use of the clock, SlashGear is reporting today.

That’s a lot of money for a pretty clock. But it is a clock with a long history.

According to SlashGear, the iconic Swiss clock was designed in 1944 by SBB employee Hans Hilfiker. The clock is very similar to Apple‘s version in iOS 6; it has the same black dashes with the thick hour and minute hands, and the big red dot at the end of the second hand. The design is currently licensed to Swiss watch maker Mondaine, which means that without ponying up, Mondaine and SBB could have easily sued Apple.

They’d probably have to join the queue.

An SBB spokesperson said the company was simply seeking "an amicable agreement and compensation" from Apple.

Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Contributor

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