Apple Nabs & Trademark for "Magic Slate"

Apple has once again lit up the Internet, this time with the acquisition of a domain name it may or may not be planning to use. MacRumors reported over the holiday weekend that Apple had acquired through a third party company called Mark Monitor. The story has grabbed techie attention in part because of the persistent rumors that Apple will be releasing a tablet device that could, in theory, be called the iSlate.

The domain name was first registered in October of 2004, and MacRumors traced its life to 2007, when it was transferred to Mark Monitor, a firm that specializes in "brand protection" for large corporations, including half of the Fortune 100, according to the company's Web site..

The Web site found documentation showing a period of time when was shown as belonging to Apple. In addition, TechCrunch uncovered the fact that the term "iSlate" was trademarked by one Regina Porter for a shell corporation called "Slate Computing," and it just so happens that there is also a Regina Porter who lists herself on LinkedIn as "Senior Trademark Specialist at Apple."

Both tidbits strongly suggest that Apple is behind the registration of the trademark. To add more fuel to the speculation, TechCrunch also noticed that Slate Computing has a trademark for "Magic Slate" in addition to iSlate. Apple recently released a multi-touch mouse called the Magic Mouse, leading some to wonder if Apple is going that route with its as-yet unannounced tablet.

Before you mortgage your home to make a bet on one of these names sporting an Apple logo sometime in 2010, however, we should note that Apple has a track record of acquiring domain names and trademarks for products it may or may not use.

In some cases the company changes its plans or names, while in others Apple is simply making preemptive moves to lock up particular names for strategic reasons like keeping them out of the hands of its competitors. This is a common practice with many large companies.