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:

20121012-150725.jpg

Why in the world would Invicta trademark map locations?

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?

Switzerland’s watch exports increased in August from the previous year, a report by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH showed on Tuesday.

Export value of Swiss watches surged 24.1% in August from the previous year, to attain a level of CHF 1.07 billion. At the same time, wrist watches exports grew 25.9%, while other products exports climbed 4%.

In the January to August period, watch exports increased 20.1% compared to the same period of the previous year.

Developments among the Swiss watch industry’s main markets were varied. Hong Kong recorded another very strong performance with 18.7% annual growth and the U.S. showed an increase of 9.8%. The value of sales to Singapore showed one of the strongest upward variations of all and exports to China grew by 7%.

Source: http://www.rttnews.com/Content/AllEconomicNews.aspx?Node=B2&Id=1424015

From the homeshoppingista blog:

“ValueVision Media, parent of the No. 3 home shopping network, filed a so-called “shelf registration,” or S-3 form, Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the stock offering. ShopNBC declined to comment.

But in its filing the company said that if it doesn’t stem its losses, “We could reduce our operating cash resources to the point where we will not have sufficient liquidity to meet the ongoing cash commitments and obligations to continue operating.

Through a shelf registration, a company can fulfill certain SEC-mandated registration-related procedures before offering shares to the public, which permits the company to go to market more quickly when they are ready to do the public offering. The company essentially puts stock shares “on a shelf” in case it needs to raise capital for any reason.

We have a history of losses and a high fixed cost operating base and may not be able to achieve or maintain profitable operations in the future.

In its filing, ShopNBC said it had operating losses of about $41.2 million, $88.5 million and $23.1 million in the years ended January 30, 2010 (“fiscal 2009”), January 31, 2009 (“fiscal 2008”) and February 2, 2008 (“fiscal 2007”), respectively.

It also reported a net loss of $42 in fiscal 2009 and a net loss in fiscal 2008 of $97.8 million.

“While we reported net income of $22.5 million in fiscal 2007, this was due to the $40.2 million pre-tax gain we recorded on the sale of our equity interest in Ralph Lauren Media, LLC, operator of the polo.com website,” the S-3 filing said. “There is no assurance that we will be able to achieve or maintain profitable operations in future fiscal years.”

ShopNBC said it has high fixed costs, primarily driven by fixed fees on the merchandise it sells to cable and satellite operators in exchange for distribution.

“In order to operate on a profitable basis, we must reach and maintain sufficient annual sales revenues to cover our high fixed cost base and/or negotiate a reduction in this cost structure,” the filing said. “If our sales levels are not sufficient to cover our operating expenses, our ability to reduce operating expenses in the near term will be limited by the fixed cost base. In that case, our earnings, cash balance and growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected.”

ShopNBC reported that it has limited unrestricted cash to fund its operations, $20.9 million as of May 1, 2010 (with an additional $4.9 million of cash that is restricted and used to secure letters of credit and similar arrangements).

“We expect to use our cash to fund any further operating losses, to finance our working capital requirements and to make necessary capital expenditures in order to operate our business,” the filing said. “We also have significant future commitments for our cash, primarily payments for our cable and satellite program distribution obligations and redemption of our Series B Preferred Stock. If our vendors or service providers were to demand a shift from our current payment terms to upfront prepayments or require cash reserves, this will have a significant adverse impact.”

It appears that ShopNBC’s shareholder GE Capital Equity will have to approve the offering, according to an 8-K that the network filed with the SEC in June.

“On June 10, 2010, our board of directors authorized the filing of a shelf registration statement on Form S-3 with the Securities and Exchange Commission covering the sale by our company of up to $75,000,000 of securities, including common stock, preferred stock, warrants, units and stock purchase contracts,” the company said in that filing. “Our shareholders agreement with GE Capital Equity Investments, Inc. (“GE Equity”) and NBC Universal, Inc. require the consent of GE Equity in order for our company to issue new equity securities and to incur indebtedness above certain thresholds, and there can be no assurance that we would receive such consent if we made a request.”

ShopNBC’s largest shareholder, NBC Universal, back on June 24 decided not to sell its 6,452,194 shares in the home shopping network “due to prevailing prices.”

Who knew that the distant number 3 network was in such financial dire straits? My guess is that repeated scandal after scandal from one of the networks cash cows, Invicta, has surely taken a toll. From the faulty Ocean Quest screw design and moldy dive cases; to Swinagate and the Great D-D Debacle of 2010, the 27 hours of watches marathon revealed few Invicta sellouts compared to last years event. And the revelation just the other day that watches marketed as having diamonds but actually containing crystals surely is not going to help sales.

I wonder if ShopNBC Host Jim Skelton, who recently went on a very public spending spree buying two cars, a new house and a shit ton of knives, all while working a few weeks over several months with one medical ailment after another, might now be regretting blowing all that cash?

What would ShopNBC’s demise mean for all of those stuck with bad watches from the past 7 months?

IT has been a summer of scandal for the Invicta Watch Group following a winter of troubles.

The latest IWG problem for July is with the Invicta II Women’s Classique Boutique Quartz Diamond watch. The ‘diamond’ bit is as flawed as Diamond Jim!

Let’s start with the ShopNBC description:

“The round 316L stainless steel case comes in your choice of gold-tone, silver-tone and even two-tone if you can’t make up your mind. The gold-tone and silver-tone options display coordinating bezels while the two-tone option displays a silver-tone case with a gold-tone bezel. Twenty four beautiful diamond accents are set around the bezel.

The 316L stainless steel bracelet displays in the case coordinating color and the gold-tone is plated in 18K gold. The two-tone option appears in both gold-tone and silver-tone. Notice two diamond accented bracelet links located near the dial totaling an additional 18 diamond accents.”

UNFORTUNATLY for one consumer, the sad truth was revealed by a local jeweler where he took his wife’s newly acquired timepiece to replace a diamond that had fallen out, only to find out that the ‘diamonds’ are actually crystals! This scandal surfaced like the others; on the Watchgeeks website. CZ Jim Skelton quickly stepped in and locked the thread down.

Like the Swinese revelation, ShopNBC quickly moved to pull down videos that featured Shop and Invicta employees promoting the value of the pieces because of the diamonds. The diamonds being a major point of the sales presentation.

One is reminded of the ShopNBC/Renato scandal a few years ago where Renato diamond timepieces where sold with claims that the diamond quality was much higher than they actually were. This resulted in a timeout for the brand which has recently resurfaced on the number three network. When is Invicta going to get a time out? When are watchgeek/Invicta consumers going to stop buying this junk?

Some are claiming that they attempted to alert both the network and fellow TV brand watch collectors that the watch did not have diamonds; only to be rebuffed as any truth apparently is in the world of TV watch collecting. If this is truly the case, one wonders why the self described horological genius, who just so happens to rep diamonds in his internet forum handle, Jim Skelton didn’t pick up on this or how Michael “Grape Ape” Davis, Invicta’s Technical Brand Manager missed it? I mean these folks will tell you they are experts but oddly enough are only hosts and salesman whenever scandals break. Really, what’s the difference between this watch and the Waltham Crystal Kitty watch that the network has sold? About plus $80 for the Infauxta.

INVICTA made a pretty decent $100 watch back in the day. Then they attempted to market high-end pieces and have not faired well in doing so with countless issues and questions. Now they’ve somehow managed to not even make a good cheap watch anymore.