Apple May Be Using 'Brightflash' Shell Company to Pursue iWatch Trademark Protection

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Following our report yesterday about Apple expanding its trademark protection to use the "Apple" name in association with jewelry and watches in a number of countries, MacRumors has discovered that Apple may be quietly continuing to pursue trademarks on the "iWatch" name itself.

    Evidence of Apple's interest in the iWatch name surfaced last June as the company began registering for trademarks on the "iWatch" name in a number of countries. Several major countries including the United States were not included in that list, and it was unclear whether Apple was holding off due to conflicts with pending trademark applications in those countries or if there were other issues in play.

    At the time, reports mentioned several of those conflicting applications in the United States, but we now believe that one of those applications may in fact be Apple itself operating in disguise using a shell company by the name of Brightflash USA LLC. While MacRumors has yet to discover a smoking gun linking Apple to Brightflash, there are several pieces of circumstantial evidence pointing in that direction, thereby suggesting that Apple is indeed continuing to quietly lay the groundwork for an iWatch launch.

    - Timing: Brightflash filed its iWatch trademark application in the United States on June 5, 2013, alongside the surge of applications by Apple in other countries during the span of June 3-5. While it is possible that the timing is a coincidence or the result of a separate company moving extremely quickly to apply for the mark after news of Apple's applications in other countries started breaking on June 5, this would appear to be unlikely.

    - Concealed company structure and location: Brightflash is registered in Delaware, a common location for incorporation due to the state's business-friendly laws. According to state records, Brightflash was formed on June 27, 2012 and the company uses the Corporation Trust Center in Wilmington, Delaware as its address. That building serves as the home of hundreds of thousands of companies, streamlining the process of locating in Delaware and providing a level of anonymity for companies registering using the firm's services.

    - Few leads on company representatives: Efforts to determine Brightflash's executives and representatives have proven difficult as well, with the initial trademark application using attorney John Sullivan at the same Corporation Trust Center address. Last month, Brightflash filed a change of attorney form with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office listing a David Harris also at that address, with that document signed by a manager "J. Yori". It is possible that this is Joan Yori, an executive with Stewart Management Company, a firm offering services for establishing so-called special purpose entities.
    - Legal links from Ecuador: As we noted yesterday, Apple filed for a trademark on the "Apple" name in Class 14 (jewelry and watches) in Ecuador last December, and the attorney who facilitated that application was Alejandro Ponce Martinez, a principal attorney with Quevedo & Ponce in Quito. Ponce has helped Apple with a number of other trademark applications, including recent filings for iOS 7 icons and iPad Air, and just weeks prior to the Apple jewelry filing he helped Brightflash file its application (PDF: page 164) for the "iWatch" mark.

    In an initial response to Brightflash's U.S. application for the iWatch trademark, the examiner cited several prior pending applications from other firms that would potentially be confusing with Brightflash's desired usage. As a result, Brightflash late last month filed its own response requesting that its application be put on hold until the other pending applications were either granted or abandoned. Last week, the patent examiner issued a letter granting the suspension of Brightflash's application for the time being. If Brightflash is indeed Apple, the company would very likely make an effort to acquire the rights to any of the other trademarks if they are granted.

    Brightflash continues to file trademark applications in other countries, including Australia and Macau. And just last month, United Kingdom and Denmark were added to the list, indicating that the firm is indeed still interested in protecting the iWatch name. As noted by French site Consomac [Google Translate], Brightflash is pursuing registration of the iWatch name in at least four dozen countries around the world.

    Brightflash is also attempting to trademark the "Brightflash" name itself in a number of countries, and it is unclear whether this is simply part of the process of pursuing the iWatch mark or if there is an additional feature or product that could use the Brightflash name.

    In the background of any efforts by Brightflash or Apple to secure a U.S. trademark on the iWatch name is a years-long battle between Swiss watchmaker Swatch and New York firm M.Z. Berger. MZB applied for a U.S. trademark on the iWatch name back in July 2007 and the application was nearly approved before Swatch opposed the mark on two fronts: potential confusion with the Swatch brand and a lack of intent by MZB to actually use the iWatch name.

    An appeals board has ruled that MZB should not be awarded the trademark on the basis that there is no evidence of MZB's intent to use the iWatch name at the time of filing, although Swatch's claim of potential confusion was not found to be warranted. Both parties appealed the respective decisions against them late last year, and the case remains unresolved.

    Apple's potential use of Brightflash as a shell company to hide its efforts to protect intellectual property would certainly not be the first time the company has engaged in such tactics. Last November, the company created an entity by the name of CarPlay Enterprises to file a U.S. trademark application on the term "CarPlay", which last month became the new name for the previously named iOS in the Car feature in iOS 7.1.

    In an earlier example leading up to the launch of the iPad, Apple used a shell company by the name of Slate Computing to protect "iSlate" and "MagicSlate" while using a separate firm under the name IP Application Development to secure the "iPad" name.

    Article Link: Apple May Be Using 'Brightflash' Shell Company to Pursue iWatch Trademark Protection
  2. Mad Mac Maniac macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

    Oct 4, 2007
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    Is Macrumors doing investigative reporting now?? Interesting...
  3. lolkthxbai macrumors 65816


    May 7, 2011
    So... Is it going to be called iWatch or BrightFlash...?
  4. Northgrove macrumors 65816

    Aug 3, 2010
    iWatch, since that's the name registered by Brightflash.

    Don't confuse the product with their shell company's name. :p
  5. 2457282 Suspended

    Dec 6, 2012
    This was one long conspiracy theory that, as all conspiracy, are based on thin air. A lot of dots but no connections. It may be Apple, or not. If apple releases a product iwatch it will certainly buy the name from whomever owns it. That's what it did with iPhone. So the only difference on who will register the name is how much Apple will pay.

    Having said that, consipracy theories is what a good rumor site should be based. Let's have more of these :D
  6. DipDog3 macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2002
    We probably shouldn't allow for "secretive" companies at all.
  7. Above The Gods macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2014
    New York
  8. Crosscreek macrumors 68030


    Nov 19, 2013
  9. bumblebritches5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 7, 2012
    Yes, we. you know, the public, the ones in charge of the political process and therefore all laws and statutes enacted?
  10. Above The Gods macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2014
    New York
    When did you and I become in charge of anything? I don't remember giving myself a tax hike.
  11. Bare macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2008
    Super secretive. Shell companies.

    No way to know for sure, but I buy it.
  12. Schurkasol, Apr 22, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2014

    Schurkasol macrumors newbie

    Feb 12, 2014

    I still don't see Apple calling its wearable device "iWatch". Because this name would indicate that the device was primary a watch-like device with some extra smart features (like the gear). I think there's a better chance it's going to be called "iBand". Apple applying for the trademark "iWatch" seems like the same misleading strategy as "iSlate" back in 2009/2010.

    Coincidentally the Trademark "iBand" also belongs currently to what seems like a shell company 'Blue Jewels Inc' and was applied by Mark D. Bowen, a lawyer specialising on shell companies & patent applications.

    The description in the trademark application reads as follows: "Personal short-range wireless enabled notification device for providing a user with notification of incoming communications received by a wireless enabled smart device"

    Mark D. Bowen's company:

  13. Steve121178 macrumors 68040


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    iWatch rolls off the tongue nicely and immediately identifies what the product is. It will be a watch with 'smart features' that more than likely heavily integrates with a users iPhone/iPad. Obviously Apple will be pushing the Health & Sports related apps that pretty much makes it nothing more than a smart watch.
  14. Iconoclysm macrumors 68020


    May 13, 2010
    Washington, DC
    Don't buy their products if you want to oppose them but they call it the Private Sector for a reason.


    Neither name really rolls off the tongue but I really do not like iBand. Also, if I were Apple I would drop the iBranding for the jewelry if the intention is to really open up a new category.
  15. rmatthewware macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2009
    I wonder how much an article like this could cost Apple? These shell companies keep trademark holders from gouging them, like that Chinese company and the iPad trademark.
  16. brianvictor7 macrumors 65816


    Oct 24, 2013
    United States
    Sounds like the release is imminent. Definitely this year. Even Cook has been hinting at it.
  17. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    I've been saying this for months. Readers forget, and apparently even MR forgets, how badly they were head faked with the "iSlate" name. This site was totally convinced it was going to be the name of the product that was the iPad, even though everything argued against it. Same goes for "iWatch." It's a terrible name. I would be shocked and very disappointed if Apple actually used it.


    I think Apple is cleverer than you do, apparently.
  18. dauby88 macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2013
    Cincinnati, OH
    Except that they used "iPhone" despite the fact that it's much more than a phone with some extra smart features. I think "iWatch" works really well even though it will be much more than a watch.
  19. Jibbajabba macrumors 65816

    Aug 13, 2011
    Someone got waaaaay too much time on their hands ...
  20. bpfesq macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2010
    CT Corp is a service company that helps out of state companies form entities in Delaware. Delaware corporate law is well established, mostly predictable and has favorable laws concerning the operation of the company itself. It is commonly used (along with Nevada).

    As with all other states, there needs to be a state RESIDENT that can act as registered agent for service of process (i.e. a lawsuit). CT is one of the biggest companies who provides this service. (along with lien searches, UCC filings, etc.). I use them frequently. They're probably the best at what they do, though they're pretty expensive compared to the rest.

    A "Special purpose entity" is an entity formed for one purpose only--i.e. owning a single piece of real estate. They're frequently used to isolate liabilities, prevent the bankruptcy of one asset from affecting others and other reasons. Using an SPE is not out of the ordinary.

    What we have going on here is a relatively sophisticated series corporate activities surrounding the acquisition of these trademarks. It could be Apple. It might be someone else trying to secure these trademarks to get some money out of Apple, but that would likely result in costly litigation. In all probability, it is Apple. It isn't shocking they'd do something like this. Nobody would think this would fool everyone, but it would keep the talk about it to rumor pages like this instead of the evening news.
  21. unplugme71 macrumors 68030

    May 20, 2011
    BrightFlash might be the new tech for the iPhone, iPad, or maybe the 'iWatch' to provide brighter LED flash for the camera.

    The iWatch might be similar to the iSlate name. Who knows what Apple will really call it.

    I do like the iPad company name - IP Application Development.
  22. Gasu E. macrumors 601

    Gasu E.

    Mar 20, 2004
    Not far from Boston, MA.
    I suppose, by that logic, we shouldn't allow for "secretive" people either.
  23. Tankmaze macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2012
    Yes, iWatch is happening.
    This kind of thing happened with the iPad.
  24. dragje macrumors 6502a


    May 16, 2012
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    shocked, disappointed..... It's just a name....:confused:

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