So it was a big surprise when Apple unveiled the Apple Watch last September. As it turns out, the reason why Apple could not use the iWatch name is that OMG Electronics had applied for the iWatch trademark in September 2012. The company was attempting to raise funds to produce a smartwatch on crowd funding site Indiegogo during September and October of that year. OMG was seeking to raise $100,000 and only was able to raise $1434.
In June 2007, a New York based company called M.Z. Berger & Co. filed to trademark the iWatch name, but was successfully shot down by Swiss watch maker Swatch. The latter argued that the iWatch name would cause confusion with Swatch buyers. In the EU, a firm named Probendi has owned the rights to the iWatch name since 2008. On its website, the company threatens to take legal action against any company that uses the iWatch name in the region. As it is, in Switzerland the Apple Watch name is protected by a trademark owned by Leonard Timepieces which could delay the launch of the device in that country.
So if anyone asks you why Apple did not call its smartwatch the iWatch, now you know the answer. Of course, Apple has never said whether it made a bid to buy the iWatch trademark from the current holder in each region like it did with the iPhone and iPad. With the iPhone, Apple had to make a deal with Cisco for the rights to the name. With the iPad, Cupertino accidentally had secured the rights only in Taiwan and had to pay off a company called Proview for the iPad name in mainland China.