Apple reportedly applies for "iWatch" trademark in Japan

Foxconn has joined in on the growing smartwatch craze. CNET

Apple apparently likes how the "iWatch" moniker fits a wearable computer and has reportedly applied for a trademark for the name in Japan.

The iPhone maker seeks to protect the name for a product that is categorized as a handheld computer or watch device, according to a filing earlier this month with the Japan Patent Office. The filing was only made public in the past week, according to Bloomberg, which first reported on the application.

The rumor mill adopted the name -- perhaps derisively mocking Apple's "iProduct" naming convention -- when reports emerged that the company was developing a smartwatch that would run on its iOS mobile operating system. Employees from Apple's marketing, software, and hardware units who had previously worked on the iPhone and iPad are reportedly part of a team numbering more than 100 experimenting with wristwatch-like devices that sport curved glass.

Interest in wearable computers has swelled in recent months with the developer release of Google Glass. Apple rival Google is reportedly developing a smartwatch that runs Android, and Samsung has indicated that it has long been interested in producing a smartwatch. Microsoft is reportedly studying the idea.

Rumors of Apple working on just such a device have been circulating for months. A report from a Chinese blog last December held that Apple had partnered with Intel to develop an iOS wristwatch that would be Bluetooth-enabled and sport a 1.5-inch OLED screen.

The smart wristwatch notion isn't exactly groundbreaking: a lot of smartwatches, fitness bands, or some hybrid of the two, were talked up earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show. Some of those devices include the long-awaited Pebble wristwatch, which made its debut at the conference, and the 007-inspired Martian Passport Watch.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This article originally appeared on CNET.

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    Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. Before joining CNET News in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers. E-mail Steven.

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