Japan iWatch Trademark Means Apple's Smartwatch is Coming. Maybe

iWatch trademark filing in Japan. So that's exciting.Apple hasn't confirmed that it is working on a smartwatch, or that the rumored device will be called "iWatch," but it has filed for a trademark on the name in Japan. That, in and of itself, isn't confirmation that Apple really does have a smartwatch in the works, but it sure does make the idea more plausible.

The rumors surrounding the iWatch claim it will link wirelessly to user's iPhones to display messages, alerts and other content such as driving directions and weather reports. It may also sport fitness tracking features and apparently the company has over 100 engineers working on the watch project, assuming, of course, that the reports allegedly leaking out of Cupertino are legit.

Now an Apple trademark filing in Japan from early June has surfaced for the iWatch name, according to Bloomberg.

Filing for an iWatch trademark could be proof positive that Apple is well on its way to shipping a wrist top computer device. It could also, however, be proof that Apple doesn't want anyone else using the name.

Regardless of whether or not Apple ships a smartwatch, the iWatch name is already firmly attached to an Apple-branded watch. By blocking other companies from using the name, Apple can help prevent confusion in the marketplace from competitors trying to capitalize on the iWatch hype.

Much in the same way many people use "iPad" as a term to describe any tablet device, "iWatch" could become the name used to describe all smartwatches, and by trademarking the name Apple will be in a much stronger position to control how the term is used. Even though Apple can't control the names consumers use when talking about their tablets -- like saying they got a Kindle iPad for their birthday -- they can block other companies from using the name and help prevent brand dilution.

Filing for the iWatch trademark in Japan doesn't tell us for certain that Apple is making a smartwatch. It does tell us that Apple has an interest in the name, and we also know the company has an interest in wearable technology thanks to comments CEO Tim Cook made during an AllThingsD interview earlier this year.

That means, at least for now, we still don't know for sure if the iWatch is on the way. Maybe not knowing for sure if Apple is making a watch is enough for now; sometimes it's OK to wait for the surprise of a big Apple announcement.