Luxury Watchmakers Cracking Down on 'Pirated' Smartwatch Faces

As smartwatches based on Android Wear and other operating systems continue to proliferate, users have been increasingly looking to download digital likenesses of high-end watch faces onto their favorite wearable tech devices. The luxury watchmakers behind the real-world design of the digital "fake" versions are now attempting to put an end to those creating smartwatch clones of their products, according to TorrentFreak.

Last week, Apple released its WatchKit developer tools, allowing developers to begin creating apps for the soon-to-be-released Apple Watch. Those developer tools do not currently support the creation of custom watch face designs, but it is possible they could do so in the future once Apple begins supporting fully native Apple Watch apps next year.

Companies including IWC, Panerai, Omega, Fossil, Armani, Michael Kors, Tissot, Certina, Swatch, Flik Flak, and Mondaine are sending cease-and-desist notices to websites, and even individuals, thought to be offering faces for Android Wear and other smartwatch platforms without permission. The watchmakers are citing various registered trademark, design, and copyright violations.

Richemont, the company behind IWC, Cartier, and Panerai, is one of the front-runners of the legal action and is giving owners of the pirate watch face sites as little as twenty-four hours to remove all infringing content.

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TorrentFreak spoke with Luke, the owner of FaceRepo, one of the watchface download sites targeted by pirate allegations. He voiced support of the anti-piracy steps being taken, and detailed the use of a keyword filter they use that helps stop infringing content before it can even be uploaded. Users are also notified if their created designs are infringing copyright, and goes so far as to deactivate accounts of repeat offenders.
“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 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.”
Apple itself hasn't even become a player yet in the smartwatch market and has already faced allegations such as these. Back in 2012, the Swiss Federal Railway service accused Apple of copying its iconic railway clock. A few months after the allegation, Apple reportedly paid the company $21 million for the rights to the clock face design.

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Top Rated Comments

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24 months ago

That's a lot for a watch face...


No it isn't, mainly because you don't know the intended usage, nor the terms of the licensing agreement.
Rating: 9 Votes
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24 months ago

That's a lot for a watch face...


And stupid considering they ditched it in iOS 7.
Rating: 8 Votes
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24 months ago

Well that's just stupid, most high end watch faces are standard and used among many brands.


that is untrue on so many levels
Rating: 8 Votes
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24 months ago

Why can't all companies sit down and establish some kind of standard together for plain smartwatch faces? (standard 12/24 hours clock with the date)

Then everyone's watch would look double-plus identical.

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The killer app for smart watches will be watch face editors. You want a Mickey Mouse watch with the bloody hands from Escape from Tomorrow? Just rip the images from websites (or make your own), and assign them to the relevant parts in the editor.

Well maybe not a killer app, but the smart watch equivalent of ringtone editors.
Rating: 7 Votes
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24 months ago

That's a lot for a watch face...


That's because someone at Apple messed up and used the design, and _afterwards_ Apple paid for a license, from a very very bad negotiation position. It would have been a lot less if Apple had negotiated first and signed the contract and _then_ used the design.

Let's say you drive away in my car in front of a dozen witnesses. You are caught and you say "I didn't want to steal that car, I wanted to buy it and used it for a test drive. How much do you want for it"?
Rating: 7 Votes
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24 months ago

Why can't all companies sit down and establish some kind of standard together for plain smartwatch faces? (standard 12/24 hours clock with the date)


Ridiculous. That'd be "political correctness" taken to an ad nauseum extreme.

Creativity will out, yet it always has to respect the IP rights of others.

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And stupid considering they ditched it in iOS 7.


No more "stupid" than people complaining that their recently purchased device is suddenly obsoleted by a new version.

The transaction was made, most likely with no coercion by either party. Even Apple wouldn't have known at the time that its plans would change in the future.
Rating: 6 Votes
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24 months ago

ah

And welcome to the world of Android :o


The wild west where laws are optional?
Rating: 6 Votes
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24 months ago
Not surprised

ah

And welcome to the world of Android :o
Rating: 5 Votes
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24 months ago
But I wasn't copying the Rolex's watch face! I was copying the cheap Chinese knock-off version's watch face! :D :D :D
Rating: 5 Votes
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24 months ago
I'm surprised it took the watchmakers this long, to be honest.

I don't blame them though. I'm designing watch faces of my own for when it's possible to release them. I certainly don't want people knocking them off.
Rating: 5 Votes
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