HERE’S an interesting development in the world of TV Horology: Swiss Watch International has apparently lost the use of the word Swiss in both the name Swiss Watch International and Swiss Legend.

I stumbled on a legal decision dated January 30th of this year while researching another possible blog topic and started reading through the court records in the case, Swiss Watch International Inc. V. Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, T.T.A.B., No. 92046786, 1/30/12

The decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office was the culmination of an action that began in 2006 when the USPTO did not grant Swiss Watch International trademarks for either their name or house brand, Swiss Legend on the grounds that the “Swiss” would create confusion with the Federation’s marks “Swiss” and “Swiss made”.

SWI then attempted to have the “Swiss” and “Swiss Made” marks cancelled in the US on the grounds that the names had become generic in the US because the Federation did not control their use and so they were no longer entitled to protection.

But the USPTO dismissed this case and ruled that the certification marks are not generic, despite the unauthorized use of these trademarks by other parties. They cited the Federation’s worldwide monitoring and enforcement system as well as the actions they have taken against third parties that have infringed on these trademarks, as well as the American public’s recognition that the certification marks ‘Swiss’ and ‘Swiss Made’ identify the origin of a timepieces manufacture as Swiss.

Swiss Watch International has already registered a new Legend logo and trademark and I couldn’t find anything pertaining to the parent company’s name.

What strikes me is the argument; that the trademarks are “generic” in the US because third parties have used them without penalty. Might this weak argument be a finger pointed at Invicta for such memorable missteps as the Swina Gate Fiasco and the great The Great DD Debacle? There’s no way to tell because the exhibits used to make their case are either redacted or confidential.

As expected, the company currently known as SWI has filed an appeal so it will probably be awhile until we see how this case ends.

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WHILE attempting to figure out who will be producing Jim Skelton’s yet to be launched watch brand, I can across some brand new Invicta trademarks.

As if the Sea Hunter, Sea Spider, Sea Thunder, Sea Excursion and Sea Wizard wasn’t enough ocean inspired insipidness, welcome yet another dive inspired fashion watch family: the Sea Bird. As this is only a name in that same, tired serif font, there are no designs to yet share.

Might I suggest the Sea Men as the next in this fine lineage?

I wonder if Eyal actually pays for someone to come up with this shit or if it gives his wife something to do? I mean whose bright idea is “JT FOR INVICTA, TOWER OF STRENGTH” – what does that even represent? They apparently plan to make key chains, jewelry, watch boxes and cases with this branding.

WE also can see that Invicta appears to be diversifying with an interesting application for the trademark PowerPatch which covers a range of potential products that including battery packs for handheld electronics,I’d assume smart phones, stands and cases. This move sort of makes sense as they’ll now be able to sell all of their most rabid fans phone cases that match their favorite watches. Okay, that sounded a lot better when it was just a thought rolling around in my head. Reading it out loud and it sounds pretty goddamned dumb – but hey Invictard reality is not like mine so what do I know.

BUT what I find really intriguing is the trademarking of two different sets of map coordinates. So I pasted them into Google Maps.

The first, 47.1070N, 6.8246E, resolves to an apparent paper street and set of stairs near a Swiss address, Rue de Beauregard 7, 2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

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I have been unable to determine what is at the address in question but I wonder if this might be an office of the company.

THE second trademark is 26.0280N, 80.1698W. This resolves to Invicta World Headquarters in Hollywood Florida:

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Why in the world would Invicta trademark map locations?

MZ Berger Acquires Renato

February 14, 2012

BETTERSKILLS has learned that the Renato brand has been acquired by MZ Berger, better known as the design, marketing and manufacturer of watch brands that include Elgin, XOSkeleton and Sharp as well as the licensed manufacturer of several trademarks including Disney and Paul Frank. They also own the name Gruen.

Koi of watchlords.com was the first to announce that MZ Berger was the new owner on the watchlords website.

APPARENTLY the official announcement of the acquisition was supposed to take place yesterday but has, for some reason, been delayed. Here’s what we do know:

All but 65 people have received refunds for the long delayed Tourbillon and 61 are waiting for a new tourbillon due out later this year.

There actually was an issue with the Seagull made movements that delayed delivery an not meddling by Invicta Watch Company

Financial issues due to the week economy and the federal bankruptcy case involving Scott Rothstein who owned a portion of Renato tied up cash flow resulting in problems meeting financial obligations for a period of time.

Renato will return to ShopNBC some time around April 1st, 2012 as well as other venues due to the market share the new owners have.

After the announcement on WL, One of the first results for “renato and MZ Berger” is a long sold out Renato at ShopNBC. Interestingly enough, the warranty is provided by MZ Berger.

More information as this story develops.

INVICTA, I mean Imperious, is headed back to ShopNBC on February 14th with an “upgraded” version of the X-Wing and Man-O-War. The Gearhead and Jailbait Jailbreak are nowhere in sight. While there was much speculation that Ustream host Jim Skelton was the man behind Imperious, you have to wonder if those two ‘game changing’ and ‘class dominating’ designs that are not updated or appearing could be Skelton’s only contribution to the brand.

If you ask me that X-Wing looks a lot like the redesigned Bolt Zeus which, according to some sources, seems to have tanked.

The show on Valentine’s Day will also be the premier of a new face for Invicta Imperious, former Atlanta Falcon Jamal “Dirty Bird” Anderson. He’s been hired as the Brand Ambassador which is odd that he’s presenting. And I thought most BAs were still active in their respective specialties?

Anderson’s debut on ShopNBC marks the three year anniversary of his arrest for felony cocaine possession and a misdemeanor marijuana charge. It has also been revealed that the Georgia Department of Revenue is claiming he owes $102,797.06 for the 2007 tax year.

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One can only imagine the stories that Anderson and Davis can swap at the company pot luck. The Jailbird and the Dirty Bird… You just can’t make this stuff up.

Wonder if the guy is still making value pays on these Invictas?

By Austin L. Miller
Staff writer
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 10:18 a.m.

OCALA – Wrist watches worth approximately $10,000 were reported stolen from an Ocala home Monday.

Officers responded to the 1900 block of Southeast Lake Weir Avenue, where the homeowner told them he left the residence around 9:45 a.m. and returned two hours later and saw that the back door had been kicked in.

The man told Ocala police officers that 20 wrist watches were missing, the majority of which were of the Invicta brand.

A K-9 police dog and handler searched the area, but did not locate any suspects http://www.ocala.com/article/20120117/ARTICLES/120119719

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WHILE it’s old news now, it is still funny that Invicta Technical Brand Manager Michael “Fuckin” Davis became so interested in the undelivered Renato tourbillons by posting the following missive on watchgeeks.net. Interesting when one considers that Invicta is planning on releasing their very own Chinese tourbillons. One has to wonder if Invicta is sourcing from the same Chinese source. Might Invicta actually be impacting the delivery of the Renato movements by paying to jump ahead of Renato? It’s interesting that Davis says that people should cancel their orders. When are those Invicta tourbillons slated for release?

“First off, I want to say that I am writing this message as the founder of WatchGeeks, one of the former owners of WatchGeeks and the current Administrator/Managing Director of WatchGeeks. My current position with Invicta has nothing to do with this post or this situation.

Let me re-cap the situation as I see it and know it:

#1. Daniel Mink offered for sale a tourbillon approximately 2 months ago. Based upon stories later concerning fine tuning the power reserve and now a glitch and glitches, one can only make the logical conclusion that he knew these watches were not ready to be shipped out. Since Daniel does not have his own production facilities, he certainly knew that he did not have them in his possession. At this time, no mention was made that this was an advance sale or that the watches were not ready for delivery or that there was anything amiss with the watches, glitches or otherwise. Credit cards were charged and money was taken from customers.

#2. A single watch was sent to Jim Skelton for promotion.

#3. When people begin to complain about delivery of their watches, Daniel indicated that 50 of them had been sent out already and that the remaining units were “coming soon”. It is often noted how odd it is that no one on WatchGeeks received one of these 50 pieces even though a large number of members ordered them.

#4. Around the same time as Item #3 above, Daniel indicated that what was happening with the watches was fining tuning the watches and in particular the power reserve on the watches.

#5. A voucher was sent out to those that ordered the watches as a bit of compensation to those that waited on the tourbillon and were experiencing the delays. Only problem is, the “fine print” included a stipulation that the use of the voucher would negate the ability of the holder of the voucher to cancel their tourbillon and get their money back.

#6. A member here posts that he spoke to Renato customer service at about the 4 week point and was told to expect another two months or so of delay on the delivery. A couple of other members then confirm this same timeline.

#7. At this point I contact Daniel directly to address the issue. He tells me that customer service never said this and that delivery of the watches was close. He was out of the country and it was late there. He told me that he would call me the next day and that an update would be going out on WatchGeeks.

#8. Daniel never did call me back. Or email me. Or communicate with me in any other way. He did make a post here a few days later indicating that the watches would be shipping to customers in approximately 2 weeks.

#9. It is now, as I write this, two weeks later and the watches have not shipped. An additional update has now been made indicating that there will now be additional weeks before delivery begins.

#10. In the update referenced in Item #9, references to “glitches” are now being made. A “glitch” is not tweaking the power reserve of the movement to get a longer reserve time. A glitch or glitches are problem(s) with the movement. Certainly not the excuse that was originally given as to the delay of the piece.

Bottom line, this is NOT acceptable behavior for someone using this site as a means to promote their site and the pieces they sell. We are now right at 2 months into a wait on these pieces. Only 150 were made. A competent watchmaker can build 3 to 4 tourbillons per day in a standard work day. I even went so far as to verify this with another vendor on this forum that has extensive experience building the exact same movement. Again, only 150 of these tourbillons were made. Do the math how many times a small team could assemble, disassemble and then reassemble these 150 watches.

If a member came on here and was selling watches and following the same steps as Renato, we would have banned them long ago. We have rules in place for our sales forum that prevents people from selling watches that they do not have and cannot send out as soon as the financial transaction is made. And we do not give members 2+ months to send the watches to the people that pay for them. Our rules (TOS) for the sales section of this forum are there to protect the sellers and the buyers. And while Renato did not sell their watches via our site, they did receive promotion via this site to facilitate their sales. I cannot help but feel that our sales TOS/rules apply at least in spirit to any vendor that comes here and uses this site to market their products.

It is my initial thought to ban Renato from this site. However, I don’t have the time to deal with this issue right now. I am on the eve of departing on a vacation combined with a birthday trip. It is my personal recommendation to those awaiting delivery of said tourbillon to cancel their order. While I may not be the biggest watch industry expert in the world, I have (of the course of two years in this industry) gained some level of expertise. I am completely and totally uncomfortable with this situation and how it is playing out. Something on many different levels is just flat out wrong. But, that is just my personal opinion. Officially, I will say that this issue needs to have a resolution by June 15th. If it has not been resolved, then Renato’s ongoing participation on this site is probably going to be gone. Again, we would not tolerate even the smallest part of the actions of Renato when applied to those using this site to sell watches. Whether handled incompetently or be it something else, this situation is just wrong on many, many different levels.

I know Renato has many loyal fans here. That is great. I became a fan of their brand and a customer of theirs shortly after they arrived at SNBC. At one point, I owned 30+ Renatos. For those that have been involved in the watch forums for a while now, they will remember that I was banned off of another watch site (where I had been an administrator) in large part due to my loyalty to Renato and speaking out on their behalf and defending them. And, I know Daniel and his partner personally. I have spent time with them in MN at SNBC as well as in FL. I do not take this decision lightly. But, I have to go with what I feel is right for this forum. No one is saying you can’t be a fan of their brand or their customer. But, if they wish to continue to participate here, then their actions must justify that ongoing participation. This tourbillon issue is not acceptable.

I will be in touch with you on a final resolution to this matter on or about June 15th.

Thank you for your time and for reading this very long post.”

Daniel Mink was made aware of the Invicta Technical Brand Manager’s comments and his response was:

“…it has been dealt with. You wont here from his dumb mouth again”

IN usual watchgeek fashion, the post is reported to have disappeared.

———-update 2:57 PM—————

It’s official; Renato is out at watchgeeks just like Skelton! Via watchlords.net:

“Renato Email sent this afternoon
======================

Dear Friend,

It is my pleasure today to announce to you three major milestones in our history that we would like to notify you about.

1. Renato Watches is no longer part of WatchGeeks.net

Renato Watches is no longer part of the WatchGeeks.net forum. This was a mutual decision as Renato intends to launch it’s own forum http://www.renatogeeks.com in thirty days. On this site, our loyal fans will be able to openly & freely discuss any topics regarding Renato Watches as well as be privy to brand new up coming designs, sneak peeks and etc. These are all things that we were not able to do onwatchgeeks.net for various reasons. Our forum will feature many exciting sections including one where members can display and trade/sell watches to other members.

While Renato is no longer listed on watchgeeks.net and our new forum is being created. Please feel free on the meantime to contact me via email (daniel@renatowatches.com) or facebook (Danielmink) with any questions you may have.

2. The Renato Affiliate Program

Over the past seven years, many of you have purchased many of our timepieces and have built significant collections with them. In lieu of this, you have become our best advocate and testimonial. Therefore, in the coming week, we at Renato plan to launch the Renato Affiliate Program (RAP).

With this program you will be actually earn money by simply referring our timepieces to your friends, family and associates. From then on, you can earn up to 20% of every purchase they make! Details will be sent to you next week on how to join and start earning cash.

3. Live stream Renato Shows

In the coming months, Renato Watches will launch shows online featuring myself along with special surprise guests from the watch industry to launch brand new collections. These shows will be streamed online at http://www.shoprenato.com.

In honor of these special events mentioned above we have decided to increase our current voucher promo TU770 from 20 to 27% off currently listed prices. This will be in affect for just 48 hours and then it will go back to 20%….

Make sure to take advantage of this window of opportunity and save even more money.

If you have any questions, please free to reach out to me via email (Daniel@renatowatches.com) or via Facebook(Danielmink).

All the best,

Daniel Mink
CEO
Renato Watches, Inc.”

Watchgeeks is slowly starting to look like myspace circa 2007…

MIGHT the exit of Jim Skelton from ShopNBC be due to eroding watch sales?

Just days after ShopNBC released Q4 results for 2010, Mr. Skelton disappeared from the airwaves and neither side is saying anything of substance. You’ll remember that I speculated he would be gone a year ago following a series of bizarre, on-air actions and statements in October of 2009 after the announcement that Tim Temple was being brought back to the network who had fired him six years prior. What followed were twelve months that saw one Invicta flop and scandal after another. But dead watches and hands that fell off were not limited to Invicta as other brands sold by the network arrived in non-working order to customers. Mr. Skelton continued his hostile behavior, famously throwing a ruler on the set and teasing Larry Magen about his dye job to the point that Mr. Magen snapped on the air. Mr. Skelton was also absent for long stretches of time, leading many to believe that the end of the Skelton era had arrived. Upon his return he began calling out this blog as well as individual members of the Watchlords forum as well as adopting a very snide tone with his forum membership.

As people complained on watchgeeks about inferior products and misleading statements used to sell the watches they were systematically banned or bullied by the Yellow shirt enforcers into silence on the Watchgeek forum. But these heavy handed actions didn’t stop the descent; seemingly generating more. As the one year anniversary of my original blog approached, Mr. Skelton started bragging about signing a long term, no cut contract.

EVEN I was surprised when I saw the news. I assumed I had seemingly made the correct case but was off by a year. I did forget about the earnings call and so I took a look at the earnings information released by VVTV. At first I was equally shocked about the 6% decline in watch sales against the same time period last year at the psychological height of the depression. But is it really that shocking? The former individual owners of Watchgeeks, as well as others who I’d consider friends of this blog, usually downplay my suggestion that Shop watch sales were driven primarily by Watchgeek membership and it has always been thought, albeit anecdotally, that all of the testimonial calls into Mr. Skelton’s shows were plants. But in a thread on WG concerning Mr. Skelton’s split with Shop, we seem to have proof:

A friendship developed on email, and we would exchange idea’s and questions on the timepiece’s. One day Jim emailed me and asked to call into the show, as a customer, who, wanted to express feelings about timepiece’s and invicta models and my experience’s with them.

I called in several times, regarding many timepiece’s and vendor models as well.

I don’t think it is a stretch to believe that Mr. Skelton had bonuses tied to sales and he was not your ordinary shopping channel host. He was a cheerleader and apologist for Invicta long before he ever came to TV, possibly with a retail background. By some accounts a hand picked successor to Tim Temple by Eyal Cool J. Temple who, supposedly wanted more control over product and to push the higher-end. But realistically the margins are much smaller with those classes of timepieces. It makes a lot more sense to sell a Chinese assembled watch marked “Swiss” at several times it’s actual unit cost. Reaching out to just a few dozen individuals like the person quoted above would not only generate sales because of an implied “friendship” but would push other members into making multiple purchases as well; specifically shut ins and individuals with little or no self esteem and a need to belong.

BUT the decline in sales doesn’t fall completely on Mr. Skelton. ShopNBC advertised diamonds on watches that were actually crystal; they marketed Chinese made watches as having a Swiss pedigree; they used a man-made composite of sandstone and marketed it as natural; they sold turquoise dial watches that were a cheap mineral alternative and they sold watches that featured hands that fell of. People started criticizing the fact that every hyped model was just a different color dial or rubber instead of a steel bracelet like the previous version. Again, the complaints grew louder and those voices disappeared. Michael Davis, at the time a Watchgeek owner and still the Technical Brand Manager for Invicta, issued the now famous edict – there is no free speech at Watchgeeks.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that people tired of getting products that were advertised as something they were not and that they tired of the heavy handedness of the forum. I’d expect a decline in sales to follow. Need more proof? Just take a look at how outrageous his sales presentations became.

IT was my belief in the fall of 2009 that Mr. Skelton would soon be benched. It didn’t come to pass on the original timeline. But now it has, and if we work backwards with a little math based on Mr. Skelton’s own comment on that original blog, he signed in late September or early October of 2009. I’d expect that to run one year, which would have placed his resigning again in that same September / October timeframe. It is now the end of March which would make a late September signing the 6 month mark. I do believe he is going to end up on WoW.tv or an Invicta launched channel. And I think a lot of people will follow him there and he’ll be just fine. Free of the employer oversight that seemingly burned him so many times over the past few years.

Will it be 6 months from now? Is that the real Watch Commander on Twitter claiming to be in Minnesota or an impostor?

Will ShopNBC even be around 6 months from now?