New Delhi: The Swiss Federal Railway has accused Apple of copying the design of an iconic station clock for the new iPad clock app in iOS 6, reports Swiss newspaper Blick.
Mondaine Group, the company that has held the license since 1986 to make clocks and wristwatches for consumers based on the 20th-century design classic, said it would also challenge Apple.
The clock was designed by a a Swiss engineer Hans Hilfiker in 1944 and has since achieved an icon status in Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Railway holds the rights over the design of the clock. But Apple has apparently not obtained the necessary permission to reuse the design.
The minimalist clock, which is emblematic of Switzerland's tradition of punctuality, was designed for the national rail service to help travellers to check the time at a distance as they hurried to catch their trains.
In 1953 Hilfiker added a red second hand, which pauses briefly at the top of each minute "to enable trains to depart punctually", as he put it.
The second hand with a circle at its end is based on the device a station manager on the platform would wave for a train's departure
The clock design in the iPad app does appear to be a direct copy of the Swiss railway clock.
The redesigned clock app is a new feature on Apple's iPad computer with the iOS 6 mobile operating system. It uses black dashes for numbers and a red second hand with a circle at the end, just like the Swiss railway clock.
Apple had recently won a landmark case against rival Samsung in which the Cupertino-based tech giant accused its Korean competitor of copying Apple designs. This accusation does put Apple in an uncomfortable position.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Design Museum in London have both included Hilfiker's clock among their examples of outstanding 20th-century design.
Switzerland's tradition of watchmaking stretches back hundreds of years and includes famous luxury watchmakers such as Patek Philippe, Rolex and Omega.
(With inputs from Reuters)