updated 12:20 am EDT, Tue July 2, 2013
May all but confirm name of upcoming smartwatch
(Update: Also applied for in Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey) Apple has applied for an "iWatch" trademark at the Japan Patent Office, according to Bloomberg. The filing was originally made on June 3, but appears to have been made public just last week. The Japanese trademark application follows ones reportedly made in Russia and Jamaica, the latter dating back to December 2012.
Although a number of reports have discussed the project, news about an Apple smartwatch has gone relatively dormant in recent weeks. The company is believed to have a team of about 100 or so people working on the device, and some rumors have had it shipping as soon as this fall. There have yet to be any parts leaks however, or even any claims of the watch going into production.
The device is expected to serve mostly as a companion to an iPhone or iPad, handling integrated functions like phone calls, notifications, and music playback. It's uncertain what features the watch might support on its own, though it could conceivably have enough storage to load its own music and/or basic apps.
Update: Apple also filed for trademarks on the "iWatch" name in Mexico and Taiwan on June 3rd, the same day as the Japanese request and just days prior to filing for a similar mark in Russia. As all the requests pertain to the classification of computing hardware and portable computing devices, this has led to further speculation that Apple is approaching the release of its own smartwatch. However, some have pointed out that the name "iWatch" could also apply to a set-top box or television-type device, though at least one application done back in February described a flexible touchscreen on a bracelet.
Unlike its stealth approach in getting the trademark for iPad, all the filings so far have been under Apple's own company name. The filings also use an identical block-letter logo. A number of other companies, including Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn, have already announced or produced their own versions of a smartwatch.
Update 2: Another iWatch trademark appears to have been submitted in Turkey through Pinar Arikan, an attorney with past Apple associations. The Turkish application was also filed on June 3rd.