Bet Apple wish they could turn the clock back: Swiss firm accuses iPhone 5 of copying their iconic face design

Switzerland's national rail company has today accused Apple of stealing the iconic look of its station clocks for the iPhone.

Apple, usually the ones suing others for copyright or trademark infringement, is accused by the Swiss Federal Railways of copying the rail company's iconic 1944 clock design - right down to the second-hand ending in a circle

The iconic design, which was created by acclaimed designer Hans Hilfiker, was licensed from the train company - known as SBB -  by watchmaker Mondaine, helping spread the brand across the globe.

Can you tell the time? Apple's iPad clock app (left) versus Mondaine's iconic clock face

Can you tell the time? Apple's iPad clock app (left) versus Mondaine's iconic clock face

A spokesman for SBB said the Apple design was 'identical' to the one pioneered by the rail company in 1944.

Reto Kormann confirmed that Apple had not asked for permission before doing using the design.

He said: 'We've approached Apple and told them that the rights for this clock belong to us.'

Up close: Mondaine's designs are known world-wide

Up close: Mondaine's designs are known world-wide

Although he did add: 'We are proud that this icon of clock design is being used by a globally successful company.'

Kormann said SBB would seek an 'amicable agreement' with Apple that could see the clock design used in return for a license fee.

Apple's public relations offices in Germany and Switzerland didn't respond to repeated calls and emails requesting comment.

Technology fans have noted before how many of Apple's iconic designs are based on Braun products from the 1950s.

Meanwhile Apple has itself launched several patent and design rights claims against rival companies in the past - with its complaints including competitors copying the iPhone's rounded corner designs.

Last month it won a $1.05 billion judgment against Samsung Electronics in a U.S. patent case. 

The new iPhone 5 was launched today in eight countries.

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