Apple has filed for ownership of the “iWatch” trademark in Japan, suggesting that the company could be preparing either to introduce a wearable technology or a product relating to the TV business.
The trademark application, which was filed under product category for a computer or watch device, was submitted on June 3 and made public by Japan’s Patent Office on June 27, though its unknown how long the application process will take.
It was not immediately clear when the application might be approved. Patent office and Apple officials in Japan were not available for comment late Monday.
According to the Independent, registering a trademark is often an indication that a company wishes to launch the product – seeking to avoid any legal tussles after the public release. However, some organizations also like to hedge their bets or simply block off their opponents. Apple also registered the “iSlate” in 2009, but it was the iPad that launched in 2010.
Speculation has mounted that Apple is preparing to launch an iWatch and CEO Tim Cook told a gathering of tech and media executives a month ago that wearable products were ripe for exploration, but added he was skeptical, including about Google Inc’s recently unveiled Glass which combines a mobile computer and eyeglasses.
“There’s nothing that’s going to convince a kid who has never worn glasses or a band or a watch to wear one, or at least I haven’t seen it,” Cook said.
Nevertheless, many are convinced that Apple is really working on a smartwatch product, but so far Cupertino has kept more or less quiet — save for Tim Cook’s statement about the “profound” opportunity in wearables at the D11 conference in May.
Also Russian newspaper Izvestia reported last month that Apple has filed for a trademark on the term “iWatch” in Russia, but the technology giant does not seem to have registered the name in Europe, writes the Telegraph.
The idea of an iWatch that would offer a wearable system able to connect to a smartphone has raised interest, with a number of media outlets saying the company has a huge team of engineers working on such a product.
Bloomberg cites two sources which claim that Apple has assembled a team of about 100 product designers to work on a smartwatch, which would be connected to the iPhone and other iOS devices.
Rumours about a possible so-called iWatch first emerged in December when Chinese manufacturers let the news slip.
In February, it was reported that Apple had applied for a patent for a wearable device in the U.S and the same month MacUser magazine created an artist’s impression of what the wearable tech could potentially look like.
The U.S. patent application no. 20130044215, filed by Apple originally in August 2011, specifies the technology for a ‘wearable accessory device’ with a ‘flexible display’.
Recent rumors also pointed that one of Apple’s big rivals, Google, is working on a smartwatch as well.
Samsung, which has leapfrogged Apple as the world’s leading smartphone maker, is also developing a wearable device similar to a wristwatch, a source with knowledge of the matter has said.