Deep in the bowels of the Trademark Office is some fresh evidence that Steve Jobs intends to name his messiah machine the "iPad": the company is in a fight with Fujitsu over the trademark.
In documents first uncovered by The Jesus Tablet blog, Apple first filed notice that it wanted to oppose Fujitsu's "iPad" trademark application last September and as recently as December has continued to file paperwork in that dispute, lending further evidence that Steve Jobs will thusly christen his forthcoming tablet computer. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board granted Apple's December request for an extension until February 28 "to file a notice of opposition against" Fujitsu's trademark.
iPad remains just one of several possible names for the device, of course; Apple applied for the iPad trademark in July only after earlier applications to trademark "iSlate" and "Magic Slate." But it's worth noting that Apple lawyers have filed three times with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to oppose a duplicate trademark Fujitsu is attempting to attach to a retail inventory device.
Fighting Fujitsu's trademark could help Apple avoid the sort of legal problems that dogged the iPhone, which used a name already trademarked by Cisco. Apple settled a lawsuit with the networking equipment maker one month after CEO Jobs unveiled the iPhone.
Caveat: Apple lawyers haven't yet filed any specific complaints about Fujitsu's "iPAD" mark yet, they've just asked for time, and then more time, to put together arguments against the name. So it's entirely possible Apple just wants to preserve the option of naming its tablet the "iPad" up until launch, expected to come at a press event Jan. 27.
It's also possible Apple is fighting Fujitsu entirely independent of a tablet; the name "iPAD" sounds awfully close to "iPod," but it's curious that they'd wait eight years after their music device was released to make that claim, especially since Fujitsu first filed for its trademark in 2003.
(UPDATE: A tipster more familiar with trademark procedure points out that Fujitsu's iPAD trademark wasn't open for opposition until Sept. 1, 2009. Indeed, Apple's filings indicate that the trademark's "Date of Publication" is 09/01/2009.)
Nevertheless, Apple's known to aggressively defend all its intellectual property, even fighting to keep the Big Apple, New York City, from using an apple logo to promote an environmental campaign.
In any case, it's safe to say Fujitsu's device for retail clerks will not threaten whatever new product Jobs announces Friday.
Here is Apple's most recent request for an extension (click the image to see a larger version) and below it the letter filed the same day giving them until Feb. 28 to file their opposition.