The company files a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization over iPhone5.com, a discussion forum and domain name that it doesn't -- yet -- control.
You can never have enough clues about what Apple might have up its sleeve for its next iPhone.
The latest tidbit comes in the form of a domain name -- iphone5.com -- for which Apple has filed a claim with the World Intellectual Property Organization. To date, Apple's smartphone line has counted up only to the iPhone 4S, but the company is widely believed to be getting ready to bring an iPhone 5 into the world.
Of course, ahead of the iPhone 4S launch last fall, a good many people expected that device would be the 5 model. By way of comparison, Apple's latest tablet was generally expected to be the iPad 3, but ended up being called just the new iPad.
While there are no specifications to be gleaned here, the WIPO filing does at least suggest that Apple is considering the iPhone 5 name for the next iteration of its market-defining device. Or perhaps it just wishes to take that domain out of play, regardless of what it calls the device.
In its current state, iPhone5.com is a forum site, created in February 2008, according to the WhoIs record. Its copyright statement clearly indicates that it is "not endorsed, sponsored, nor otherwise affiliated with Apple" and that it was created "for the sole purpose of entertainment and knowledge."
And apparently at least some of the denizens of the site like it just fine that way. Worried that if Apple were to take control the site would be shut down, a commenter named Morphius wrote today: "we as members here before the 4s was even released at iphone5.com should stand our ground against Apple. We have every right to be a fan of the iPhone and to talk and discuss about it. THEY WIILL NOT SHUT US DOWN!!!!!
The bare-minimum WIPO filing page does not indicate when Apple filed its complaint, although the case number D2012-0951 does indicate that it might have been sometime this year. It does say, under the heading Decision, "Case active."
Like many companies, Apple has done battle before to take possession of domain names in a quest to protect the good name of its products. In November, for instance, having filed a complaint with the WIPO, Apple was able to take control of seven "iPhone" domain names, including the straightforward iphone4s.com and the more prurient iphonesex4s.com.
For speculation about what the iPhone 5 (or whatever it ends up being called) might feature, check out CNET's regularly updated "iPhone 5 rumor roundup." Among the latest reports are claims that the next iPhone will have a 4-inch screen and a thinner, taller body.
Apple is widely expected to deliver the iPhone 5 sometime this year.
We've requested comment from Apple and will update this story when we get a response.