‘Brightflash’ Rumored as Apple Shell Company Pursuing iWatch Trademark Protection in Major Countries

BY Stephen Hall

Published 22 Apr 2014

We told you yesterday that Apple is extending its own “Apple” trademark to include jewelry and watches, but it looks as if the Cupertino corporation may be moving to pursue the true iWatch trademark itself in major first-world countries using a “Brightflash USA LLC” shell company.

Apple trademarked the iWatch name in several countries during the Summer of last year, but there was no evidence of the company trademarking the name in major countries such as the United States. Many rumored reasons for this were floating around, including that Apple was facing conflicts with other pending trademarks, but MacRumors tells us a different story. While they don’t have any conclusive evidence yet, the publication does offer a large amount of circumstantial evidence hoping to prove that Apple is using a shell company by the name of “Brightflash USA LLC” to trademark the iWatch name in major countries.

First, the timing of the Brightflash “iWatch” trademark application in the United States was oddly similar to Apple’s iWatch trademark applications in several other countries. Brightflash applied for the iWatch mark in the United States on June 5th 2013, right around the time that Apple applied for the iWatch name in other countries between the 3rd and 5th of June. This could have possible just been a competing company rushing to trademark the name after seeing Apple’s successful application in other countries, but this appears unlikely seeing the rest of the evidence that Brightflash is indeed Apple itself.


Secondly, Brightflash is concealed in location and structure, and appears to be a company that was set up to be as anonymous as possible. Brightflash was founded in Delaware, which makes sense considering the state’s friendly business laws, but what’s interesting is that the company uses the Corporation Trust Center in Wilmington, Delaware as its address. This building houses hundreds of thousands of companies, giving Apple a convenient and relatively anonymous home for its shell company.

Also worth noting, many efforts were made to determine the executives and representatives of Brightflash with not much luck. An attorney by the name of John Sullivan was used to file the initial trademark application, with his address listed as the very same location at the Corporation Trust Center. A change of attorney was filed by Brightflash last year, though, which was signed by a manager “J. Yori”. There is an executive of Delaware’s Stewart Management Company–which specializes in establishing “special purpose entities”–by the name of Joan Yori, and this could very well be the aforementioned “J. Yori” who signed Apple’s change of attorney documentation.

Finally, and likely the most conclusive piece of evidence that Brightflash is simply an Apple shell company, is that there are ties between Brigthflash and Apple’s filing in Ecuador last December for the “Apple” mark to include class 14 (jewelry and watches). The attorney who facilitated the Ecuadorian application was Alejandro Ponce Martinez, an attorney located in Quito, Ecuador, and associated with Quevedo & Ponce. Interestingly, Ponce helped Apple with a number of other important marks in mid-2013 as well, including those for the iPad Air and parts of iOS 7. Just weeks before facilitating these big-name trademarks for the Cupertino corporation, he helped Brightflash file its application for the “iWatch” mark.

In the patent application’s initial response from an examiner, it was noted that there are several prior pending applications that may be confused with Brightflash’s intended usage. Brightflash then requested last month that its application be put on hold until the noted applications had either been granted or abandoned. And last week, the examiner granted this request, putting Brightflash’s application on hold.

Brightflash has continued to pursue the “iWatch” name in many other countries, namely AustraliaMacau,  the United Kingdom and Denmark. Also worth noting is that Brightflash has pursued the “Brightflash” name itself, but it’s currently not clear whether or not this name will be significant as an independent mark. It does sound like a technology-related name, though, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to guess that it may be the name of a future Apple product or feature.

Notably, this wouldn’t be the first time that Apple has used a shell company to quietly protect intellectual property. In November of last year, Apple used a company by the name of CarPlay Enterprises to file a U.S. trademark application for “CarPlay”, which recently became the official name for Apple’s previously-announced “iOS in the Car” feature.

It looks like there is more evidence every day that Apple will be using the term “iWatch” for its upcoming wearable wrist device. Do you think that this is an appropriate name?