Apple and SBB Agree to Keep Clock License Terms Confidential

“…a design icon that has obviously lost none of its appeal in the digital age”

  Apple clock and Swiss Federal Railways clock (collage)
The Swiss Federal Railway service (SBB) and Apple Inc. in Cupertino, California have reached an agreement on the use of SBB's station clock in iOS, the latter’s mobile operating system powering iPhones and iPads.

The Swiss Federal Railway service (SBB) and Apple Inc. in Cupertino, California have reached an agreement on the use of SBB's station clock in iOS, the latter’s mobile operating system powering iPhones and iPads.

The SBB has released the official English translation of its announcement, noting that “certain devices such as iPads and iPhones,” are now allowed to use the SBB station clock designed for the company in 1944 by Hans Hilfiker.

Per the SBB’s press release, “This arrangement has been mutually agreed by both parties in a licence agreement.”

“For the use of the clockface on certain Apple devices such as iPads and iPhones, the parties have negotiated an arrangement that enables Apple to use the SBB station clock under a licence agreement,” reads the announcement.

However, both companies refused to release the actual details of their agreement, such as the actual sum of money that Apple is obligated to pay to the SBB for the use of their clock face.

“The parties have agreed that the amount of the licensing fee and any further details of the licensing arrangement will remain confidential,” according to the announcement.

The SBB includes a short history lesson regarding their station clock, noting that it was designed for the company half a century ago “by the engineer and designer Hans Hilfiker.”

The Swiss Federal Railways specifically notes that, “It is a design icon that has obviously lost none of its appeal in the digital age.”

“A special feature of the clockface is its striking red second hand in the shape of a railway guard's signalling disc. Even now it symbolises the innovation and reliability that are key qualities attributed to both SBB and Switzerland  as a whole,” says the SBB.

Pictured above are the two clock designs that appear to be almost identical. To this day, it is unknown whether Apple intentionally ripped off this design, or whether it's a fantastic coincidence that the iPhone maker ended up pursuing such a similar design.

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