Fujitsu weighs iPad name challenge

by Minoru Matsutani

Apple Inc. has caused a stir with its iPad tablet-computer, which could change the face of the publishing industry and how information is gained from the Internet. But one thing may not be revolutionary: the product name.

Tokyo-based Fujitsu Ltd. applied to trademark a similar name, iPAD, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2003, a company spokesman in Tokyo said Friday.

The trademark office has yet to register iPAD as a trademark, as the application process is ongoing, Fujitsu spokesman Masao Sakamoto said.

“So we cannot really comment on (whether we will ask Apple to postpone sales of) the iPad,” he added.

Fujitsu’s iPAD, a hand-held bar-code reader equipped with a numeric keypad, is designed to be used by shop clerks. Fujitsu develops, manufactures and sells the device only in North America, Sakamoto said. The Japanese company began using the name iPAD in 2002, he said.

On Wednesday, Apple unveiled the iPad, which allows users to read e-books, play games, watch video images and use hundreds of thousands of applications that have been developed for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

In a similar trademark dispute, Apple settled with Cisco Systems Inc. over the product name iPhone three years ago.