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Fujitsu could battle Apple over ownership of iPad name

When Apple formally introduced its touchscreen tablet as the iPad Wednesday, it was not the first tech product to carry that moniker — Fujitsu released its own mobile, touchscreen 'iPAD' in 2002.

Speaking with The New York Times, Masahiro Yamane, director of public relations for Fujitsu, said it is the company's understanding that they still own the name 'iPad.' Fujitsu is currently consulting with its lawyers over the next steps it may take.

It could become a similar situation to 2007, when Apple formally introduced the iPhone, only to be sued days later by Cisco, which owned the rights to the name. The Linksys iPhone was released just three weeks before the Apple iPhone was introduced at the Macworld San Francisco keynote in early January 2007.

Just over a month later, Apple and Cisco settled their dispute, with both companies retaining the right to use the iPhone trademark on products throughout the world. Terms of the deal were confidential.

The Windows CE .NET-based Fujitsu iPAD has a 3.5-inch color touch screen, Bluetooth connectivity, Wi-Fi, and is capable of VoIP communications. It also sports a laser scanner and Mag Card reader, and is powered by an Intel processor. It costs around $2,000.

Evidence of the potential dispute first surfaced last week, when Apple filed several requests asking for additional time to present evidence opposing Fujitsu's trademark application for the 'iPAD' name. Apple began the process in Sept. 2009, and has continued to ask to have the option to oppose the name. The extension was granted, and Apple has until Feb. 28 to make its case.

Fujitsu abandoned the trademark in early 2009, only to reapply last June. The Times also noted other iPads around the world: German company Siemens sells 'iPad' engines and motors, and a Canadian lingerie company makes 'iPad' padded bras.

Previously, a company known as IP Application Development filed trademarks for the IPAD name in New Zealand, Australia and Trinidad and Tobago. Apple was also revealed to be behind Slate Computing LLC, which obtained possession of the iSlate trademark.