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Friday, April 18, 2014, 09:28 am PT (12:28 pm ET)

Samsung deal with Swiss clock maker portrayed as an affront to Apple

Samsung recently inked a deal with Swiss Federal Railways, the same organization that accused Apple of copying one of its iconic clock designs, leading some to speculate that Samsung may have sought the contract solely to make a dig at Apple.

Clock

Left: Apple's iOS 6 clock. Right: the clock design owned by SBB.


Earlier this month, Samsung revealed that it had reached a deal with Swiss Federal Railways to supply 30,000 phones and tablets to the organization also known as the SBB.

But back in 2012, after the debut of iOS 6, the same state-owned rail company had a public spat with Apple, in which the SBB accused the iPhone maker of stealing its iconic clock face design created in 1944 by Swiss engineer Hans Hilfiker. The clock remains the property of SBB, and is still used in the Swiss operation's train stations, and the clock design Apple had used in iOS 6 bore a striking resemblance.

Apple eventually paid $21 million to the SBB in late 2012 to license the clock design. And it's because of that dispute and subsequent payment that Bloomberg suggested this week that Samsung's new deal with the SBB was a way for the South Korean electronics maker to "stick it" to Apple.

Adding to their suspicion is the fact that Samsung made the announcement just as the company's highly publicized patent infringement trial with Apple is getting underway. Neither Samsung nor Apple would comment on the matter, but a spokesperson for Swiss Railways told Bloomberg that Samsung made the best offer.

The SBB plans to use the Samsung Galaxy lineup of tablets and phones for employee communications, ticket purchasing and other services as part of the contract.