Of course, Apple was not the first major company to use the name iPad. Fujitsu, STMicro, and Siemens all got there first. And since 2008, Coconut Grove Pads has held the rights to the name for padded bras.
But Steve jobs has never let a little matter of prior usage deter him. Like many creative geniuses, he is a creative borrower and visionary adapter. Xerox invented a revolutionary (and expensive) computer workstation with "desktop" icons controlled by a mouse. Jobs turned it into a consumer product and brought computer mice to the millions.
He seems especially good at recognizing a good name. The fact that the Beatles had a little record company they called Apple did not strike him as an obstacle when naming his computer company. If anything, it just seemed to validate his choice. Years of legal wrangling followed, but he held onto the name. When Apple announced the iPhone, it was deja vu all over again. Cisco Systems owned the name and sued. But the phones are still called iPhones.
Apple may face a legal battle with Fujitsu of Japan and STMicroelectronics, Europe's largest chipmaker, over use of the iPad name for its tablet computer. STMicro trademarked the name for its proprietary semiconductor technology in 2000 in Europe and has been using the name since.The irony here, of course, is that Steve Jobs is a leading advocate of protecting intellectual property -- especially through Digital Rights Management technology. Doubtless he will prevail in any legal and financial wrangling about the iPad name. In doing so, he will underscore an important reality about intellectual property, especially in the areas covered by trademark and copyright law.
Fujitsu has made a handheld computer called the iPad for use by shop assistants since 2002, and has an outstanding trademark application for the name.
There are other owners of iPad trademarks, including Siemens, which has the right to use the term for engines and motors; and Coconut Grove Pads , which since 2008 has the right to the term for padded bras. The situation is reminiscent of 2007, when Apple first announced the iPhone and Cisco Systems owned the rights to the name. Cisco launched a lawsuit against Apple that was settled when the two companies agreed to share the name. Terms of the deal were never disclosed.
Whatever one's legal rights, ownership of a name or other intellectual property is only as lasting as the resources that can be brought to bear to defend it. When there's a conflict, the rights almost always end up with whoever has the deepest pockets and the best lawyers.