Luxury watchmakers target smartwatch face copyists
Luxury watchmakers like Omega, Armani, Michael Kors, Tissot, and Mondaine have teamed up to take down sites hosting pirated bootleg smartwatch watch faces which allegedly breach “trademark, copyright and design rights,” The luxury brands have been serving these websites and individuals with cease-and-desist notices, giving them as little as 24 hours to comply.
It is not hard to realise that having a digital copy of a smartwatch face will cost much less than the real deal but with the flexibility to change the face to suit your mood. With wearables such as Motorola’s Moto 360 popularity roaring, partly due to the ability to display custom watch faces. An example is that a real Devon watch could set you back as much as £17,500, whilst the digital representation ‘copy’ of the watch face can be acquired absolutely free.
The effort to crack down on pirate digital faces will prevent a harder time to come in taking action against real-world counterfeits, and most affected watch face hosts have proven to be quick to honour requests, removing anything with digital likenesses of the watchmakers’ products from their sites that was being offered without permission.
A TorrentFreak report says that companies such as Cartier’s owner Richemont and Omega have both imposed demands and filed takedown requests to watch face sites, citing trademark infringement. Mondaine was also recently involved in a spat with Apple, an action that cost Apple a reported $21 million in licensing fees for including one Mondaine’s designs in iOS6.
“Although some of the replica faces we’ve received take downs for are very cool looking and represent significant artistic talent on the part of the designer, we believe that owners of copyrights or trademarks have the right to defend their brand,” Luke, the operator of leading user-uploaded watch face site FaceRepo, explained. “If a copyright or trademark owner contacts us, we will promptly remove infringing material. To date, all requests for removal of infringing material have been satisfied within a matter of hours.”
The site now automatically rejects uploaded designs if any brand names are found in the face name, description or tags, and deactivates accounts of repeat infringers. It is unlikely that there are any lost sales of these analogue watches since they are priced far higher than smartwatches, although it is interesting to realise that watch face design piracy is inevitably going a problem in the future.