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Time is money: Apple pays $21M for clock design, says report

Apple shells out many millions of dollars to license the iconic Swiss clock-face design it apparently adapted for use in iOS 6, says a news agency report.

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Edward Moyer Senior Editor
Edward Moyer is a senior editor at CNET and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. ¶ For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
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Apple's iOS 6 clock and an official SBB watch from Mondaine. Apple/Mondaine

Quality Swiss-made timepieces don't come cheap. Just ask Apple.

The company shelled out a $21 million "lump sum" to license a clock-face design from the Swiss Federal Railway service, French news agency AFP reported, citing a Swiss paper.

In September, the railway service, also known as SBB, objected to the clock-face design in iOS 6, saying it too closely resembled a trademarked design created in 1944 by SBB employee Hans Hilfiker and used in train stations throughout Switzerland.

Hilfiker's design has been honored by both the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the London Design Museum and has become a symbol of Swiss punctuality, according to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs' swissworld site. It's also licensed to Mondaine, a Swiss watch manufacturer.

SBB reached a licensing agreement with Apple last month, but at the time, an SBB representative said the amount of the licensing fee and other details of the deal would remain confidential.