Apple’s complaint is being adjudicated by the Swiss Federal Administrative Court, in order to successfully argue its case, Apple will have to prove that at least 50% of consumer associate “think Different” with apple branding. Apple is being represented by Zurich law firm Lenz & Staehelin, which filed concurrent but unsuccessful complaints with Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. Responding to Apple’s accusation, Swatch CEO Nick Hayek said any similarity between the two campaigns is coincidental. Hayek asserted “Tick Different “has its root in Swatch campaign that carries the phrase “Always different, always new”.

USPTO’s approval for Swatch’s trademark

Swatch applied for and was granted a U.S. trademark for “Tick Different” some two years ago. With a priority date of 16 July 2015. The USPTO recently granted an extension to mark in January. Swatch holds same trademark in Switzerland. While mark covers a number of potential applications, Swatch currently uses “Tick Different” to distinguish Bellamy, a quartz wrist watch with built in visa NFC payment functionality. The company leveraged Bellamy to break into Chinese mobile payment market, beating both Apple Pay and Apple Watch by four months.

Dreamed up by long time Apple advertising agency TBWA/Chiat/Day when the tech giant was struggling, the “Think Different” campaign ran from 1997 through 2002. Initially called “crap” by late co-founder Steve Jobs, now the iconic series matched the slogan with black and white photos, of famous visionaries. Kicking off the ad blitz was the award winning “To the Crazy Ones” TV Spot, which featured a voice-over.

Swatch won trade mark

In 2015, Swatch won a trademark on the phrase “one more thing” , words Jobs would often use to preface surprise announcement at events. Swatch later said the catchphrase was inspired by the TV shows “Colombo” and would be used to market a collection of film noir watches. The watchmaker also attempted to block Apple’s UK trademark application for “iWatch” saying it was similar to Swatch’s “iSwatch” mark, some believed that Swatch filed “iSwatch” as a pre-emptive strike against Apple’s inevitable smart watch rollout. The UK Intellectual Property Office ultimately sided with Swatch, long after Apple decided to market its wearable under Apple Watch moniker.