Why Isn't the Apple Watch Called the iWatch?

Why Isn't the Apple Watch Called the iWatch?

02/12/2021  |   411 Views

Apple has an impressive catalog of famous products, all named according to a similar pattern. The iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad all have the "i" prefix that has become Apple’s renowned trademark.

When it came to its first smartwatch, though, Apple broke tradition and named the product the Apple Watch. This is instead of the iwatch, like many expected. At the time, many i-gasps were let out, but we didn’t quite get an explanation for why Apple avoided adding an "i" to the Watch. Here’s what we think.

According to Tim Cook…

In an interview with David Rubenstein on Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked why the Apple Watch was not named iwatch. Cook did not give a specific answer, instead simply stating that he preferred the name "Apple Watch" to "iWatch."

Rubenstein also pointed out the "i" naming pattern that Apple had come to be known for, giving examples including iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Related: Here's Why Apple Product Names Start With an "i"

Considering Apple’s careful attention to its product details, we think there must have been a better reason why the company broke from its iconic naming strategy.

Well, it turns out there was.

Apple’s Game of Trademarks

During the development of the Apple Watch, Apple ran into some legal issues when trademarking the name iWatch, as detailed on SecureYourTrademark.

The name had already been claimed by a US software company called OMG Electronics, a couple of undisclosed companies in China, and an Irish developer called Probendi, whose Iwatch trademark applied to every country in the European Union (EU).

In addition, when Apple applied to trademark the iWatch name in the United Kingdom, Swiss watchmaker Swatch objected, claiming that the name "iWatch" was too similar to its own trademarks for the words "iSwatch" and "Swatch." Swatch claimed that Apple's iWatch would cause confusion among its customers, and the Intellectual Property Office of the United Kingdom ruled in Swatch's favor in October 2014.

Apple was successful in obtaining the iWatch trademark in a number of countries, including Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, and Russia. However, because several companies in the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and China held their own iWatch trademarks, Apple was unable to secure its trademarks in those parts of the world.

To use the name iWatch, the company would have had to deal with exorbitant trademark settlements in each region.

Apple's Trademark History

Apple had previously faced a few trademark battles in order to secure product names for the iPhone and iPad. As Wikipedia documents, Apple had to pay an undisclosed sum to Cisco to acquire the trademark rights for the iPhone name. Apple also paid Proview about $60 million to secure Taiwanese rights to the iPad name.t

In 2010, Apple attempted to trademark the "i" prefix in order to avoid future trademark lawsuits, but the court rejected the move, stating that no company could solely own rights to a letter.

This left Apple with only one option: use an existing trademark. Apple. This is what the company later used for products that had trademark issues, such as the Apple TV, which was originally intended to be called the iTV. That is even what it was called when Steve Jobs unveiled the streaming device in 2006.

Apple was forced to change the product's name after an unsuccessful battle with a British broadcasting company that owned the ITV trademark.

Related: How Does the Apple TV Work?

Should We Expect More Name Changes From Apple?

Your guess is as good as ours. From i to Apple and now to Air—with products like the AirPods and AirTagd—we just have to keep our eyes peeled for whatever names Apple has up its sleeves next.

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About The Author

Keyede Erinfolami(58 Articles Published)

Keyede Erinfolami is passionate about using technology to improve productivity in daily life and work. When she's not writing, you can find her kicking butt at Scrabble or finding the best angles to take nature pictures. Has a healthy relationship with the Oxford comma.

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