Apple’s Trademark Lawsuit vs Swatch

Whitcomb Selinsky, PC

Apple recently filed a lawsuit against the Swatch company under the claim that Swatch is capitalizing on Apple’s mark. Apple’s Trademark Lawsuit vs Swatch for placing the phrase tick different on certain watches is similar to Apple’s 1990 think different ad campaign. While the case is being heard in Sweden, Swatch applied for and was granted a U.S. trademark for “tick different over two years ago with its mark officially published in October 2016.

Swatch has previously litigated against Apple twice before: once in 2015 for alleged trademark infringement by Swatch of words used by Apple’s founder Steve Jobs and a second time in an effort to block Apple’s trademark application for Apple Watch Receiving a notice of infringement like Swatch, in this case, causes many companies to grow confused about how to respond to such an action.

One of the best pieces of advice, when faced with a notice of infringement, is to promptly retain the services of skilled legal counsel.


Before an infringement lawsuit occurs, many times a mark owner will send a letter warning the alleged infringer of their actions. A skilled trademark or intellectual property attorney will be able to help you respond in the event that you receive a letter from a trademark owner alleging trademark infringement. Many times, the first step in such an occasion is to use the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Search System to determine the date of filings for the various trademarks that apply in the case. There are several ways that individuals can respond in these types of situations, which include the following:

  • Deny Infringement. Companies choose to respond to a letter alleging potential infringement by denying such activity or requesting more specific evidence of the infringement that is alleged.
  • Negotiate. A company might decide to negotiate with a trademark owner for a license to use the trademark or some other type of agreement where the company chooses not to acknowledge that an infringement exists.
  • Take No Action. Some companies choose to not acknowledge this type of potential infringement warning and merely view the demand letter as an act of intimidation.
  • File A Lawsuit. Occasionally, a company will respond to such a letter by filing the company’s own lawsuit alleging infringement by the other party.


It is important to remember that a federal court will analyze various factors in determining the similarity between two marks. In the case of Apple’s Trademark Lawsuit vs Swatch, a court is likely to place emphasis on: the similarity between the “Swatch” and “iWatch” trademarks, the similarity between Swatch and iWatch products, whether consumers are likely to confuse Swatch products with iWatch products as well as various other factors.