November 2018. Wristwatch-maker Swatch has overturned the EU trademark protection of computer giant Apple’s well-known ‘Think Different’ slogan. On 24 August, the Invalidity Division of the European Trademark Office EUIPO declared Apple’s registration to the phrase invalid.
Swatch has been at odds with Apple for several years. The bone of contention is the slogan Swatch has been using for some time – ‘Tick Different’ – which Apple claims is too close to its own ‘Think Different’ slogan.
Null and void
Both companies are now taking legal action against each other in various countries. Swatch took its case to EUIPO, arguing that Apple should no longer be able to claim trademark rights to ‘Think Different’ since the slogan is no longer in normal use. Under trademark law, a registration can be declared null and void if the trademark concerned hasn’t been used for five years.
Sporadic use not enough
According to EUIPO, Apple failed to demonstrate that it had used ‘Think Different’ regularly in the EU over the past five years. Sporadic use of the slogan, for example in 2013 in connection with the death of Nelson Mandela, was not enough to maintain Apple’s rights, EUIPO concluded. As a result, the slogan ‘Think Different’ will be cancelled as a trademark for computers, tablets or i-phones. An important victory for Swatch in a dispute that’s highly unlikely to end here.