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Why the Apple Watch isn't called the iWatch

If not for a failed company called OMG Electronics, you might be preparing to order an iWatch instead of an Apple Watch.

Apple, creator of the iMac computer, iPod music player, iPhone smartphone and iPad tablet, moved away from the "i" franchise for its latest gadget. A quick search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's website gives at least one clear reason why.

In August 2012, Fresno, California-based OMG Electronics applied for the iWatch trademark. Apparently, there was a legitimate interest in doing something with it, as OMG ran a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo from September to October of that year.

Read MoreApple Watch time?

According to the campaign's description, the company was "raising funds for the development and creation of the ultimate mobile device that has the benefits of a wrist watch."

The effort failed. OMG raised $1,434 of its proposed $100,000—so enough to buy four of the cheapest Apple Watches. Richard Ryan, the attorney named on the trademark filing, didn't respond to a request for comment.

OMG isn't alone. An entity in New York called M.Z. Berger & Co. applied for a trademark on the iWatch name in June 2007. But Swiss watchmaker Swatch successfully opposed the filing a year later, claiming that it would cause confusion with Swatch's registered names.

And according to a Bloomberg story published in October, a Dublin-based software studio named Probendi has owned the iWatch trademark in the European Union since 2008.

Probendi isn't shy about claiming it. On the front page of its website, the company, which describes itself as a network service business, says this:

"Probendi Limited is the sole entity lawfully entitled to use the name 'iWatch' for products such as 'Apple Watch' within the European Union, and will promptly take all appropriate legal actions to oppose any unauthorized use of 'iWatch' by whomever for that kind of products."

Read MoreApple sells 1 million watches this weekend: Analyst

Whatever Apple's reason for avoiding the "i" prefix this time around, it probably won't matter for sales. Piper Jaffray expects the tech giant to sell 1 million of the devices, which range in price from $349 to $17,000, in their first weekend on the market.

An Apple spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple Watch pre-orders begin Friday, and the devices are slated to hit retail stores April 24.