Apple Pays SBB £13m In Swiss Railway Clock Licensing Deal – Report


Apple reportedly pays 20m Swiss Francs to use the Swiss Railway Clock in iOS6

A Swiss newspaper has reported that Apple is paying Swiss Federal Railways 20 million CHF (£13.2m) so that it can continue to use the Swiss railway clock design in iOS 6.

The two parties confirmed that they had entered a licensing agreement last month after Apple included the design without receiving prior permission with SBB.

Neither company would reveal financial details of the deal, but Tages Anzeiger claims that several sources have confirmed the “surprisingly large amount.”

“Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and Apple have reached an agreement on the use of SBB’s station clock on certain devices such as iPads and iPhones,” an SBB spokesperson told TechWeekEurope. “The parties have agreed that the amount of the licensing fee and any further details of the licensing arrangement will remain confidential.”

Apple Swiss railway clock settlement

The swift settlement suggests that Apple has stumped up the cash so that it did not run the risk of a sales ban, at least in Switzerland, or having to alter the Swiss version of iOS 6, which would raise additional costs. It also says that the company did not want to suffer any reputational damage after its recent patent success over Samsung in the US.

Mondaine, which has the license to create clocks and watches using the design, says that it is a “good thing” that Apple used it as it amounted to free advertising, but would not confirm to Tages Anzeiger whether or not it would seek any of the money.

The Swiss Railway clock is used at all stations operated by SBB and was created in the 1940s by Swiss engineer and designer Hans Hilfiker. The distinctive design features no numbers, with minutes denoted by black lines and a red second hand moving in a smooth motion around the clock before it stops at the top of the minute for 1.5 seconds to allow trains to leave promptly.

The clocks have become a symbol of the famed Swiss punctuality, and are given to foreign countries as a sign of friendship.  One was given to London in 1985 and is currently located in Leicester square. Apple’s use of the clock has even been interpreted in Switzerland as an example of its enduring appeal.

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