National Jeweler Network

Brand Profiles

Swatch cannot trademark ‘Tourbillon’ for stores

By Michelle Graff

April 25, 2014

Alexandria, Va.--The U.S. trademark appeal board has shot down Swatch Group’s attempt to register the Tourbillon logo it uses for its boutiques of the same name, noting, among other points, that registering the mark could deprive competitors of using representations of tourbillons when advertising their products.

According to court documents, Swatch Group Management Services AG filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in December 2011 to register the logo used for its Tourbillon boutiques worldwide, which includes the word “Tourbillon,” for goods identified in International Class 14, the class that includes jewelry and watches.

Class 14 is officially defined as “precious metals and their alloys and goods in precious metals or coated therewith, not included in other classes; jewellery, precious stones; horological and chronometric instruments.”

Initially, a trademark attorney shot down Swatch Group’s request on the grounds that “the applicant’s mark in its entirety merely describes the goods,” court papers state.

Swatch Group filed a request for reconsideration, which was denied, and then filed an appeal, which the Trademark Trial & Appeal Board denied April 18, agreeing with the initial decision in the case that the word tourbillon is “merely descriptive," meaning it "conveys an immediate idea of an ingredient, quality, characteristic, feature, function, purpose or use of the goods and services,” court papers state.

The Swatch Group did not respond to request for comment on the ruling by deadline.

The board also found that the image of a tourbillon mechanism included in the logo cannot be registered because it’s merely an illustration of a tourbillon and does not require “imagination, thought or perception to reach a conclusion as to the nature of the goods.”

It dismissed Swatch Group’s argument that the logo illustration is not an exact representation of a tourbillon but “an abstract, highly stylized version” of the mechanism, and that tourbillon designs vary widely from creator to creator.

Swatch Group’s Tourbillon boutiques sell the group’s watch brands, including Breguet, Blancpain, Omega and Swatch, in one place. There are a total of 20 of the stores on three continents.