SWATCH vs SAMSUNG / The Trademark War – Unimarks
Galaxy has started its own watch brand, ‘GALAXY WATCH’ they call it. It has been started on the 24th of August 2018 and it has also let out its models for display. The galaxy lovers who were having great hypes on the product had a good liking to it once it releases. But exactly a few months on its release exactly on Feb 2019, the Swatch Group have filed a trademark infringement on Galaxy saying that the Gear Sport, Gear S3 Classic and Frontier
smartwatches have been very identical to their own trademark design. Swatch group holds supreme power over the market of watches. Having TISSOT, RADO, OMEGA as their brands under them they have built themselves a very strong position among the hearts of watch lovers for over a decade. The company which was started in 1983 is grossing a whopping 7.533 billion Swiss francs.
So when they found out that Samsung Galaxy was going to release a new set of watch they obviously took a small peek into the styles and designs put up on Samsung’s official store's websites. But they were shocked to see the designs put up on the website very identical and literally same to the ones they have been manufacturing. Pretty identical right!!! On seeing this swatch pulled out its design trademarks and filled a case on Samsung immediately,
Swatch claims that over 30 of Samsung’s watch faces are “identical or virtually identical” to the trademarks it pre-owned. The complaint accuses Samsung of unfair business practices, and that the copied designs may mislead customers to believe that Samsung and Swatch are having a deal going on, which they clearly don’t. So Swatch filed for a $100 million lawsuit against Samsung.
Although this allegation went on Samsung still pockets a portion of the revenue. Swatch noted that one of the designs, ‘the Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater’s, was a one-of-a-kind watch design for collectors, which costs about $650,000. Swatch claims to have reached out to Samsung directly on the late December of 2018, sharing a list of watch faces that looked identical to the ones Swatch had already created. While Samsung allegedly removed the watch faces from its website for a while, but it didn’t go as far as Swatch intended them to go. Samsung didn’t admit copying any watch faces and didn’t agree to review the entire Galaxy Apps store. And even after Samsung responded, Swatch says it saw new watch faces appear in the Galaxy Apps store for sale that still appeared to copy Swatch designs in colour and style. Samsung later let out a letter officially on February 15th 2019 that it had deleted some watch faces but not all, indicating to Swatch that the message wasn’t getting through. But it was actually a silent teasing note to swatch saying ‘what are you going to do about it?’(Not literally). Although this seems to be a tug of war this is not new for Swatch.
Swatch has a history of taking legal action and winning them, they sued Tiffany & Co for failing to honour a business deal, sued Target for allegedly copying watch designs, Bloomberg for allegedly recording an earnings call and in 2015, reports surfaced that Swatch had filed 173 smartwatch-related patents, many since 2012. Yeah! I know they are like that one annoying student in the class who always complains to the teacher for petty reasons. Although trademark infringement is not a petty reason it is made quite clear that you don’t mess with Swatch’s design because if you do, they’ll sue you. “In view of Samsung’s inadequate response,
it is reasonable to conclude that Defendants will continue to infringe the Trademarks, and thereby cause further loss and damage to the Swatch Group Companies,” writes Swatch after that reply it got from Samsung and is going ahead with the trial proceedings, seeking $100 million in damages.
The trial is set to take place in New York where it has got its trademark registered. Personally, I like what Samsung is doing, it is launching a new product and needs controversies like these to somehow get an added on promotion, even if they do lose they’ll blame it on the Third-party designers they hired to design their watch. But if they actually lose, it will be a $100 million worth a blunder swatch is never going to let them off easily. Let’s see how Samsung goes about with this situation, if they get out of it with no damage then you just have to presume its lawyers pulled something out of their hats. Or that Samsung is ready to spend more on their lawsuits rather than their designs.