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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,

Just a quick question about copyright / design patents on watch bands.

I've noticed a lot of brands seem to use the same bracelets/straps as others do for their watches. Is this actually allowed when creating a completely new design? Bezel and dial design is obviously a big no-no, but there are certain unique bracelets/straps which I've seen more than one different watch company use.

As an example what if one of the following bracelets were used on a completely differently designed watch:


  • Rolex Jubilee
  • Rolex Oyster
  • Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
  • Patek Philippe Nautilus
  • Ebel Wave
  • Cartier Santos
  • Breitling Rouleaux
Curious to know your thoughts!

Thanks :)
 

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Bezel and dials have been imitated many times, so even those aren't. As for bracelets... I think you'd be in violation if you expressly labelled your bracelet as coming from those brands. I've seen a number of watches been promoted with "oyster style" or "jubilee" bracelet, I don't think Rolex has a majorly enforced trademark on them or anything.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Bezel and dials have been imitated many times, so even those aren't. As for bracelets... I think you'd be in violation if you expressly labelled your bracelet as coming from those brands. I've seen a number of watches been promoted with "oyster style" or "jubilee" bracelet, I don't think Rolex has a majorly enforced trademark on them or anything.
Appreciate your feedback! It's difficult to know whether you're treading on someone elses toes within this industry. I'm actually astounded at how many 'homages' seemingly get away with blatantly ripping off anothers design.

My colleagues and I are leaning towards a bracelet that's styled towards one of the big brands, but ultimately we do not want the word 'homage' to be in any way related to our brand. Our bezel and dials are all of our own design - so we'd like them to be association as such.

At any rate, really appreciate your thoughts!
 

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As far as I understand it - the design of a watch (case, hands, dial, bracelet etc.) are not legally protected - only the name can be trademarked. You can't assert copyright over a functional design (despite what Apple wanted to do many years ago with their iPhone.

So it's not a case of "ripping off" as you state - but simply some people wish to copy designs legally. It's why homages are entirely legal and fakes are entirely illegal (a watch that looks exactly like a Rolex Daydate but calls itself Boop is fine - a watch that looks nothing like a Rolex watch but uses the Rolex crown logo and name on it is not fine).

Some items such as Lego I believe managed to assert some protection over design features if I recall correctly but even that may have been a case of suppliers selling fake "Lego (tm)" bricks rather than calling it "boop bricks".

If you can turn your case into something distinctive enough to be trademarked you may stand a chance - see Panerai and them trademarking the words "navy" - so homages cannot use "Marina Militare" even though to me (a non-IP specialised lawyer) it'd be like Disney trying to trademark "mouse" *shrugs*.
 
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