By Grant Brunner on July 6, 2013 at 8:00 am
Apple’s hotly anticipated smartwatch has been gaining substantial traction in the rumor mill lately, and a lot of that is thanks to patent and trademark sleuthing being done around the world. Apple has filed trademarks for the name iWatch across Asia and Latin America, but it seems that Cupertino will face trademark issues in the European Union and the United States. As it turns out, “iWatch” is already trademarked by two separate companies.
After doing a bit of poking around in the Intellectual Property Office, MacWorld UK is reporting that a company named Probendi Inc. has had a trademark for the iWatch name in the European Union since 2008. Probendi isn’t in the smartwatch market, though. Instead, it uses “iWatch” as the name of a mobile streaming app. On the other side of the ocean, the New York Post is reporting that a company called OMG Electronics has filed a trademark on “iWatch,” and plans to sell a smartwatch under that name in the United States.
This sounds bad. Surely, Apple will be forced to name its smartwatch something else, right? Not so fast. We’ve seen this same situation play out before in 2007 with the launch of the iPhone. Cisco owned a trademark on the iPhone name, and many pundits were sure Apple would end up changing the name of its smartphone. Instead, Apple used its legal team and massive war chest to come to an agreement with Cisco. Just because there are a few roadblocks in the way, don’t assume that Apple will turn tail and run away from the conflict.
Yesterday, a new Apple patent was made public that showcases the potential for flexible battery packs in Apple products. Combine this with other flexible batteries and the introduction of curved AMOLED displays, and we have the ground work for some really exciting new gadgetry. While there is still no official confirmation that Apple is making a smartwatch, this tech is bound to be used somewhere down the road. Since this patent was submitted a year a half ago, Apple might have even begun developing a product using these flexible batteries already.
While Google is jumping head-first into the world of wearable computers with Google Glass, Apple is content taking its sweet time developing its next product line. There is still a big cultural shift we need to go through before robo-glasses become completely acceptable, but something as low-key and inconspicuous as a smartwatch will be a nice way for society to ease into wearable tech. Maybe if Apple has something surprising and outstandingly compelling up its sleeves, the world will embrace wearable computers as quickly as it did with tablets.