Following reports that the company had registered the term in Japan and Russia, similar filings for the "iWatch" name have been discovered in Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey and Colombia.

The discovery of these additional filings will no doubt lead to further speculation that Apple is set to enter the wearable technology space, which, according to Juniper Research's latest figures will have moved into the mainstream as soon as 2017 when 70 million devices are forecasted to ship yearly. The research firm believes that by as soon as next year the industry will be worth $1.5 billion. And this is despite the fact that the sector is still very much in its infancy and that its most recognizable product up until now, Google Glass, is still in its prototype stage and not destined to ship to consumers until 2014 at the earliest.

The rumors surrounding an Apple smartwatch were triggered by a report in Apple blog Apple Insider in February, when it uncovered an Apple patent filing for a wearable accessory device with a touchscreen display that a user wears via a bracelet. Since then a number of publications, including Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have found further evidence -- such as that Apple has had a 100-strong team working on prototypes of the device for some time -- to support rumors that the arrival of a wrist-worn device is imminent.

On Monday, it was the Wall Street Journal that first reported that a trademark filing for the term "iWatch" had been discovered in Japan, only days after a similar filing had been unearthed in Russia.

Trademarking a term is often seen as the first step towards launching a product, however, Apple is equally famous for abandoning ideas and products as it is for releasing them. Adding to the validity of claims is the fact that Apple is yet to launch a new product this year and, with the exception of a couple of upgraded processors in its lightweight MacBook Air notebook range, has not debuted anything at all since October 2012 when it unveiled the iPad Mini.

There's also a possibility that the trademark might refer to another altogether different product. As the Guardian's tech editor, Charles Arthur pointed out, iWatch could just as easily refer to a product aimed at TV as to one worn on the wrist. "The "watch" element of the name could relate to a TV-related product. Analysts have expected Apple to make a move in the television space, but with margins on sets very thin and replacement cycles low -- at about 10% per year -- have been unable to think of what it might do," he wrote on Monday.

The latest filings mean that the term has been trademarked or is in the process of being trademarked in six countries. However, in the EU, the iWatch trademark is already registered and since 2008 had belonged to an Italian company called Probendi.