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Non-Apple companies hold iWatch trademark in U.S., U.K., China

Apple faces trademark trouble in the U.S., U.K., parts of Europe, and China, where other companies hold the trademark for the name "iWatch."

A mockup showing what an Apple iWatch might look like.
A mockup showing what an Apple iWatch might look like.
Sarah Tew and Christopher MacManus/CNET

It hasn't even been unveiled yet, but Apple's hotly rumored smartwatch is already running into trouble. Other companies reportedly own the iWatch trademark in the U.S., U.K., parts of Europe, and China.

Having registered the iWatch trademark in Japan, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan, and Turkey, Apple could be set for trademark trouble elsewhere. In the U.S., a California-based company called OMG Electronics claims to hold the trademark. OMG is trying to crowdfund an iWatch smartwatch, but raised only a fraction of its $100,000 goal when it took to Indiegogo.

In the U.K. and European Union, a network services company called Probendi has held the trademark since 2008, for an app that sends audio, video, and location data from a smartphone to the company's emergency management software.

And in China, no less than nine companies have had a claim to the name, although most of those trademarks are now invalid. The trademark iWatching is also held by another company.

Apple has the legal clout -- and more importantly, deep enough pockets -- to overcome these obstacles, especially where the trademark isn't being used. It wouldn't be the first time: The company forked over $60 million to Chinese company Proview in an iPad trademark row.

Smartwatches are expected by some to be the next big thing. Although they've been around for a while, wrist-worn mobile devices look likely to take off in the near future, especially if the iWatch does turn out to be real. Microsoft, Google, Samsung, and Dell are all reportedly working on their own watch that talks to your phone, while Sony is already ahead of the game with the recently announced Sony SmartWatch 2.