Vortic Watch Company is once again victorious in a trademark case filed by Hamilton Watch Company, a Swatch Group brand. The panel of federal judges affirmed an earlier New York district court ruling on all counts. After six years of fighting, the Colorado startup will survive and continue to restore and preserve antique American pocket watches turning them into one-of-a-kind wristwatches, including those that bear the Hamilton trademark.
“It’s over. The weight is lifted. We are free,” says R.T. Custer, co-founder of Vortic. “We’ve been fighting so long that this barely feels real. Without this Goliath in our path, anything is possible.”
The Swatch Group, a Swiss conglomerate which oversees the once-American Hamilton brand, accused Vortic of trademark infringement and counterfeiting in 2015. The case culminated in February 2020 with a bench trial in the Southern District of New York. That judgement – decided in September 2020 – was immediately appealed by the Swatch Group, but was affirmed this week by a panel of judges in the Federal Court of Appeals.
“The Court’s decision re-affirms something that the law has long made clear: trademark law is not a sword to be used indiscriminately. There must be a likelihood of consumer confusion. Vortic Watch Company expends significant effort to fully educate consumers about its products, and today’s outcome confirms the meaningfulness of those efforts,” commented Jin-Ho King, one of Vortic’s attorneys.
The suit is now over unless Swatch Group appeals yet again to the U.S. Supreme Court. “At this point, we’re simply letting the law speak for us, and thankfully it’s speaking up for the little guy,” said Custer. This case was followed closely by other entrepreneurs in the up-cycling world.
About Vortic Watch Company
Founded at Penn State University in 2013, Vortic Watch Company preserves American history one watch at a time. Most antique American pocket watches today are scrapped for precious metal value of their gold or silver cases. Vortic instead salvages, restores and transforms those lost treasures into unique wristwatches. Each and every timepiece is one of a kind, and built by hand in the company’s Fort Collins, Colorado workshop. For more information, please visit www.VorticWatches.com.