A Nige­rian gam­ing en­tre­pre­neur en­lists Google to help kick-start African cod­ing cul­ture

▶ Swatch’s boss has been cool to the idea but is stockpilin­g patents ▶ “Peo­ple are try­ing to put too much in there”

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Contents -

Ever since smart­watches started hit­ting the mar­ket, Swatch Group Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Nick Hayek has down­played their im­por­tance, dis­miss­ing even Ap­ple’s offering as “not a mile­stone” and say­ing the de­vices pose no threat. But he’s not tak­ing any chances.

Swatch has filed 173 U.S. and in­ter­na­tional patent ap­pli­ca­tions re­lated to smart- and con­nected watches in re­cent years, most of them since 2012, ac­cord­ing to En­vi­sion IP, a patent law firm in Raleigh, N.C. While ag­gres­sive patent fil­ing is an es­sen­tial pro­tec­tive strat­egy in the hy­per­l­iti­gious tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try, En­vi­sion says Swatch is lay­ing the foun­da­tion for a po­ten­tial lineup of smart­watches. The Swiss com­pany has “de­vel­oped and patented watch cir­cuitry and hard­ware that will al­low them to in­tro­duce their own branded smart­watch with­out hav­ing to part­ner with tele­coms and hand­set makers,” says Maulin Shah, En­vi­sion’s man­ag­ing at­tor­ney.

The epi­cen­ter of Swatch’s patent ef­forts is a sub­sidiary called Ingénieurs Con­seils en Brevets, or Patent Con­sult­ing En­gi­neers. From of­fices along a stone-arched ar­cade in the me­dieval Swiss town of Neuchâ­tel, lawyers man­age the in­tel­lec­tual property de­vel­oped by Swatch’s le­gions of re­searchers for time­pieces rang­ing from $50 Flik Flaks to $5,000 Omega Sea­mas­ters to the $50,000-plus Breguet Clas­sique Hora Mundi. A patent pub­lished in March is for a smart bat­tery that al­lows data trans­mis­sion. One from May is for a ra­dio-fre­quency sig­nal re­ceiver. And one from Oc­to­ber, nam­ing Hayek as the in­ven­tor, is de­scribed as a “por­ta­ble ob­ject for de­tect­ing pres­ence of ap­pa­ra­tus by wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion cir­cuit.”

The com­pany de­clined to say what any of the patents are for or to make Hayek or other in­ven­tors avail­able for this ar­ti­cle. Swatch says its patent unit filed a record num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions in 2014, with a goal of pro­tect­ing its in­no­va­tions, gath­er­ing mar­ket in­tel­li­gence, and fight­ing coun­ter­feit­ing. In the past, Hayek has had lit­tle pos­i­tive to say about smart­watches, crit­i­ciz­ing them for their short bat­tery life—typ­i­cally 24 hours or less—and fea­tures that are eas­ier to use on smart­phones. The Ap­ple Watch, while “the nicest” on the mar­ket, breaks no new ground with its de­sign, Hayek said in March. “Peo­ple are try­ing to put too much in there

173 The num­ber of patents Swatch has filed for smart- and con­nected watches in the U.S. and abroad, most

since 2012

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.