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Luxury watch companies go after pirated smartwatch faces

In a move that can only be seen as a logical progression of piracy, smartwatch faces are looking more and more luxurious. Big brands are none too happy.

Published onNovember 24, 2014

I'd buy that for a dollar! And that's exactly the problem!
I’d buy that for a dollar! And that’s exactly the problem!

What do iPhones, LV bags, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ed Sheeran, and Minecraft all have in common? Sure they might all make their makers a boatload of cash, but they’re also pretty high up on the piracy perpetration post, be it intellectual or otherwise. Despite the best efforts from music labels, movie studios, fashion houses and game companies, there is no end to the problem in sight.

According to a recent article on TorrentFreak, in fact, there is actually a new piracy category beginning: wearables. As smartwatches become more prevalent, companies like Omega, Tissot, Certina, and Mondaine are none too happy about their iconic designs being used illegally in the digital wearable world.

Apparently a large group of watchmakers are sending cease and desist notices to anyone caught with the offending face files; in addition to the four mentioned previously, others include Fossil, Armani, Michael Kors, and Swatch among several others. Cartier’s parent company in particular, Richemont, is at the forefront, perhaps not surprising given its history of counterfeit watch litigation. Likewise, Mondaine should be no stranger to Apple fans given the legal trouble it made for the House that Jobs Built some years back. TorrentFreak goes on to say that many sites are being given an ultimatum to have the offending content removed within 24 hours or (presumably) face legal action.

Apple had to part with a cache of cash to watch the watch.
Cnet Apple had to part with a cache of cash to watch the watch.

In truth, this issue makes perfect sense: while counterfeit watches, like the LV bags, have always been a problem for the luxury industry, the sudden influx of customizable virtual watch faces means that anyone could adorn themselves with a digital dial that looks superbly similar to something from, say, Switzerland. One might argue as to why this issue is a genuine problem given that no one is going to mistake a Gear S with its rubber wrist strap with a Cartier, but clearly it’s the brand dilution that counts, as it is the illegal use of material protected under intellectual property laws. It will be fascinating to see what happens once the Apple Watch hits and wearables enter an entirely new front of public visibility. At times like this, it’s a good thing Hewlett Packard is here to save the day.

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