Apple may not be able to sell its smartwatch in Switzerland this year due to a 30-year-old patent
Apple’s upcoming smartwatch may be barred from sale in Switzerland due to a patent dating from 1985, according to Swiss press reports.
The Apple Watch is set for availability in nine countries from 24 April, with pre-orders beginning on 10 April. However, in Switzerland the device may be barred from sale until the end of 2015 due to a pre-existing patent covering the use of the word “Apple” and the image of an apple (pictured) in association with watches or jewellery.
The patent, filed in 1985, currently belongs to William Leong, owner of the Geneva-based luxury watch brand Leonard, and is due to expire on 5 December, according to Swiss industry journal Business Montres and broadcaster RTS.
Apple has said it initially plans to sell the watch in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US; its Swiss website lists the device as set for availability only “in 2015”.
While Switzerland is not a sizeable market for Apple, the country has an association with the timepiece industry that the device targets. Apple is selling the watch in three versions, ranging in price from $349 (£234) for a “sport” edition to $10,000 for models formed of precious metals.
Swiss watchmaker Swatch last month announced a competitor to Apple Watch that will include a built-in electronic payments system. Its device is expected to go on sale next month.
Google, Sony and others also sell smartwatches, with existing watch brands such as Tag Heuer also entering the market.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property could not immediately be contacted.
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