Apple seeks to protect iWatch name

Apple has yet to officially announce plans to release a smartwatch. But the tech company is seeking trademark protection for iWatch in Japan as rivals develop their own wearable computing devices.

First, there were the insider accounts that Apple had a team of product designers working on a smart watch-type device made with curved glass. Then, there was Apple CEO Tim Cook's not so subtle comments about wearable computing during the D11 conference in May that spurred further speculation an iWatch—a nickname given by the media—would eventually hit stores.

Now, in another sign Apple is developing a wristwatch-like device, the iPad and iPhone maker is seeking trademark protection for "iWatch" in Japan, reported Bloomberg.

Trademark protection doesn't mean a product is imminent (although it seems likely). At the very least, Apple is interested in preventing its famous "I" moniker from being used by rivals working on their own smart watches.

Apple's iWatch, if it ever actually makes it to market, will hardly be the first, or even the fifth smartwatch to be available to consumers. A growing number of companies are pursuing smartwatches and on a broader scale wearable computing devices—an emerging sector considered as the next big thing in consumer electronics.

Samsung is working on its own version of a smart watch ; Sony has sold its SmartWatch; Pebble released its smartwatch this year, thanks largely to a record-setting crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter; and a group of students from India developed Androidly, which claims to be the first full-featured smartwatch for Android. Other smartwatches include I'm Watch, Metawatch, Cookoo, Martian and MotoACTV.

Lest we forget, Microsoft tried to popularize SPOT smart watches. The smart watches were quickly overshadowed by the smartphone and the product was discontinued by 2008.

Photo: Apple

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com