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Mar 29, 2021

Apple loses bid to stop Swatch using Jobs's 'one more thing' cue

Gordon Reid discusses Apple

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“One more thing,” Steve Jobs would say at the end of many an Apple Inc. keynote, giving his cue for announcing a surprise new product.

But Apple can’t keep its founder’s turn of phrase for itself, a London judge ruled Monday as he sided with Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group AG in a long-running dispute over trademarks.

Swatch’s attempt to register the phrase might have been an attempt to “annoy” Apple, Judge Iain Purvis said in his ruling, but Apple can’t block it from doing so. Purvis said in his ruling that the phrase probably originated with the fictional TV detective Columbo.

A previous court officer was wrong to say that “Swatch’s intentions had stepped over the line between the appropriate and inappropriate use of a trade mark,” Purvis added.

A Swatch spokesman declined to comment. A message left with Apple wasn’t immediately returned.

‘iWatch’

The dispute is part of a broader battle between the Cupertino, California-based company and Swatch over the naming of watches that goes back to the launch of Apple’s own product in 2015 when Apple was prevented from calling its version the ‘iWatch’. The dispute with Swatch extended to other trademarks including the watchmaker’s move to register ‘Tick Different’ evoking Apple’s own slogan of ‘Think Different’.

Jobs’ successor Tim Cook revived Job’s ‘One more thing’ line in 2015 specifically for the launch of the Apple Watch. The company argued that Swatch then sought to parody Apple when it attempted to register the phrase, with its lawyers saying the move was in “bad faith.”

“I use the word ‘parody’ there to encompass the kind of trolling behavior, the malicious bad faith use of the mark,” Apple’s lawyer Jaani Riordan said, according to the ruling.

But Judge Purvis said Apple was unable to come up with examples of any potentially concerning parodies.