Samsung has described Samsung Galaxy Gear as a wearable digital electronic device in the form of a wristwatch

Samsung applies for internet watch trademark

Samsung has applied for US and South Korean trademarks for a watch that connects to the internet.

Samsung described Samsung Galaxy Gear as a wearable digital electronic device in the form of a wristwatch, wrist band or bangle in its application to the US Patent and Trademark Office. A month earlier, it applied for a Samsung Gear trademark in South Korea.

In May Samsung registered design patents in South Korea that show a wristwatch with a flexible display. The trademark filings are the latest sign that global technology companies are racing to apply mobile technology to wearable products such as watches and glasses.

The trademark applications did not show the shape of the products, but drawings from the design patent approved in May showed a watch-like design with a flexible screen that curves around the wrist.

The US trademark application said the device will be "capable of providing access to the internet, for sending and receiving phone calls, electronic mails and messages" as well as "keeping track of or managing personal information".

The trademark filings show that Samsung is deep in preparations for what industry experts expect will be a new generation of mobile technology that dramatically expands the utility of single-function objects such as watches and glasses.

The South Korean consumer electronics giant was caught flat-footed by Apple's invention of the smartphone but through what turned out to be a legally risky strategy of imitation was able to capture a dominant share of the global smartphone market within a few years.

Apple applied on June 3 for a trademark in Japan for the iWatch. Industry watchers have long speculated that Apple is working on a smart watch that uses a version of the operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad. The company has not confirmed those rumours but chief executive Tim Cook has hinted it might be developing a wearable computing device.

Google is testing an early version of internet-connected spectacles called Glass. It uses a small screen above the right eye that displays information and imagery retrieved from the internet.

The South Korean patent office said the Gear trademark will not be approved this year as it takes seven to eight months to start reviewing applications due to a waiting list. Samsung applied for the South Korean trademark on June 21.

It was not clear if Samsung would use the Samsung Gear trademark for a smart watch. The trademark application covers 38 possible products including mobile telephones, bracelets, glasses and software interfaces that monitor human vital signs.

South Korea's patent office said in June that Samsung had patented watch designs in which more than three-quarters of the device is covered by a flexible display that curves around the wrist. Illustrations showed "back" and "home" buttons at the bottom of the screen. Another illustration shows a rectangular screen with an edge that tapers toward the top.

The product is made of metal, synthetic and glass materials, Samsung's patent document said.

Samsung executive vice president Lee Young Hee said in March that the company's mobile division has been working on a smart watch.

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