Apple finally stole a design

Apple has spent the last three decades or so waging a series of legal battles to fend off copycats who have lifted its innovative designs—from Microsoft, who originally copied Apple’s desktop interface for Windows, all the way through Samsung, who copied the iPhone and iPad pretty shamelessly. There was no point of pride Steve Jobs defended more bitterly or more passionately than innovative, original design.

But now it seems Apple has finally stolen a design of its own, and has been caught red-handed.

Granted, it’s a very small design feature. Gizmodo reports that in the new iOS 6, the iPad has a clock app, and the clock design is a flagrant ripoff of the iconic Swiss Federal Railway clock by Hans Hilfiker. First designed during World War II, the Railway still holds a trademark and copyright on the clock design, and licenses it out to watch makers for fancy watch designs that you can buy in the MoMA Design Store, among other places.

The Swiss Federal Railway will be seeking compensation for Apple’s use of the design. According to Mac Rumors “the aim is a legal, as well as a financial solution.”

Considering how bonkers everyone went over the iPhone 5, the company seems to be getting along fine without Jobs. But while this is a tiny little design feature, one has to wonder if the rip-off would have happened under Jobs’ tutelage.