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Apple Copied 68-Year-Old Swiss Clock Design, Railway Says

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc.’s new iOS 6 operating system infringes a trademarked design for clocks in Swiss rail stations, according to state-owned railway operator SBB.

The updated software, introduced this month by Apple, includes a clock icon with black and red hands that uses an SBB design created in 1944, Reto Kormann, a spokesman for the Swiss rail operator, said by telephone today.

SBB, which has allowed companies such as watchmaker Mondaine Watch Ltd. to use the design under a license, said that it’s in discussions with Cupertino, California-based Apple about a license or a settlement that would allow the phonemaker to use the image, and expects to resolve the issue in the next few days, Kormann said.

“The money isn’t in the front of our interests because we are proud that Apple took an SBB design,” Kormann said. “If we have a cooperation agreement between two good brands, that’s a win-win.”

The disputed design appears only on the iPad and isn’t on the iPhone, said Adam Howorth, a spokesman for Apple in London. He had no further comment immediately.

Samsung Conflict

Separately, Apple has been embroiled in patent battles with smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co. in courts across four continents after Apple accused the South Korean company of copying its devices last year. Apple lost a ruling against Samsung in Germany regarding claims that Galaxy devices infringed on Apple’s touch-screen technology, according to a court spokesman today.

A federal jury in San Jose, California, on Aug. 24 found Samsung copied the iPhone and iPad and awarded Apple more than $1 billion in damages. A week later in Japan, Apple lost a suit as a Tokyo judge ruled that Samsung smartphones and a tablet didn’t infringe on an Apple invention for synchronizing music and video data with servers.

The iPhone 5, which also uses the iOS 6 operating system, went on sale today and may sell more than 10 million devices in its opening weekend, Piper Jaffray Cos. analyst Gene Munster has predicted.

To contact the reporters on this story: Thomas Mulier in Geneva at tmulier@bloomberg.net; Amy Thomson in London at athomson6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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