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Exclusive: Apple seeks rights to iPhone trademark

Apple Computer has filed for a trademark on the term iPhone, suggesting the company plans to use the moniker, recently popularized amongst the analyst and blogging communities, as the official name for its highly-anticipated iPod cell phone.

The filing, made last month with a Far Eastern trademark office, is the latest in a long list of incontrovertible evidence to suggest the Cupertino, Calif.-based iPod maker is in the final developmental stages of the project, which is expected to merge traditional cellular capabilities with an iPod digital music player.

In the September 15th filing, Apple describes iPhone as "handheld and mobile digital electronic devices for the sending and receiving of telephone calls, faxes, electronic mail, and other digital data; MP3 and other digital format audio players."

Under the primary but broad classification, Apple said iPhone may also consist of "electronic handheld units for the wireless receipt and/or transmission of data that enable the user to keep track of or manage personal information."

Similarly, it may include "software for the redirection of messages, Internet e-mail, and/or other data to one or more electronic handheld devices from a data store on or associated with a personal computer or a server; and software for the synchronization of data between a remote station or device and a fixed or remote station or device."

Of particular interest is a secondary classification of iPhone listed in the filing which pertains to a "stand alone video game machine," implying that the device may be compatible with the handful of arcade games recently introduced for Apple's fifth-generation video iPod players. The games are available for purchase and download from the company's iTunes Store for $4.99 a piece.

According to the filing, which remains under examination, Apple originally sought the iPhone trademark back in March, when it filed a similar request with a trademark office in a nation off the coast of South America.

Analysts and journalists have frequently use the term iPhone in reference to the company's cell phone initiative because of a December 16, 1999 domain registry by the iPod maker for iPhone.org. To this date, iPhone.org redirects to Apple's homepage at Apple.com.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, who has been known to blab to cronies about his company's upcoming cell phone device, is believed to have commissioned the release of prototypes to at least two potential OEM manufacturing partners earlier this year.

People familiar with the project have told AppleInsider that Apple is designing the initial handsets to conform with its integrated model in such a way that they will leverage the company's tightly-knit digital media franchises.

Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research, has also been high in his convictions that Apple will soon introduce an iPhone based on an iPod nano-like candy bar form factor. He said checks indicate the device will be available in three colors.

"Our research indicates that an Apple-designed smart phone has moved from concept to prototype and recently has progressed to near completion as a production unit," the analyst wrote in a note to Apple investors last month. "We believe this smart phone has been in development for over 12 months and has overcome substantial challenges including design, interference, battery life and other technical glitches."

Should Apple gain a 1 percent share in the billion unit worldwide cell phone market, it could generate an addition $2 billion in yearly revenue, according to Wu, who based the assumption on yearly sales of 10 million units at an average selling price of $200 per unit.