Technology

In UK, Swatch Group Notches ‘Milestone’ Victory in Samsung Trademark Case

TechnologyDec 18, 2023

In UK, Swatch Group Notches ‘Milestone’ Victory in Samsung Trademark Case

The watch company has parallel litigation in the United States that is ongoing.

Swatch Group watches next to allegedly infringing downloadable watch faces from Samsung
Another example, this one showing a Tissot watch (top left) and a Jaquet Droz watch (bottom left) next to watch faces from the Samsung app store
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London—A U.K. appeals court has ruled in Swatch Group’s favor in its trademark case against Samsung, a “milestone” victory Swatch Group says will have a significant impact on internet trademark law.  

The ruling was handed down Friday in the Court of Appeal in London—the second highest court in the land, behind the U.K. Supreme Court—and upholds a lower court ruling from May 2022. 

In that case, Justice Sarah Falk of the High Court of Justice ruled that Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. had infringed the trademarks of a number of Swatch Group’s top watch brands, including Omega, Tissot, Swatch, Hamilton and Longines, via 30 downloadable “watch face” apps.  

The apps were available in the Galaxy App Store, the store where Samsung users purchase and download apps for use on their smartphones and smartwatches, from October 2015 until the South Korea-based technology giant removed them in January 2019 at Swatch Group’s request.  

Samsung appealed Falk’s ruling to the Court of Appeal, but on Friday, Lord Justice Richard Arnold, Lord Justice Kim Lewison, and Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing rejected that appeal.  

 Related stories will be right here … 

The justices joined the lower court in dismissing Samsung’s argument that it was not liable for damages because it had not “used” the infringing watch faces, which were created by third-party developers, and had merely “hosted” the downloadable designs in its store. 

The appeals court stated in its ruling, “Samsung’s acts of use of the disputed signs were active and gave it knowledge of and control over that content. They were not merely technical, automatic, and passive with no knowledge or control.” 

An email sent Friday to Samsung seeking comment on the decision was not returned. 

In a statement issued Friday announcing its victory in the case, Swatch Group co-Chief Legal Officer Mireille Koenig said: “Swatch Group is pleased with the judgment, which looked at a new form of trademark infringement in the digital age, and the liability of online providers such as Samsung’s Galaxy Store. 

“The court reached the right result, protecting the exclusivity and value of our iconic watch brands.” 

Swatch Group filed a parallel trademark infringement lawsuit against Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Samsung Electronics America Inc. in the United States in February 2019.      

That case is ongoing.   

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