Apple's position in the tech market could help in winning the right to use the iPad name in Europe.

French-Italian company STMicroelectronics currently owns the trademark in Europe. It uses the IPAD name in chips sold to mobile phone makers and stands for Integrated Passive and Active Devices, according to its website.

A company believed to be a front for Apple filed for a trademark on the iPad name with the Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union.

It's application, on January 18, is for rights to the name under a much wider range of classifications than STMicroelectronics.

It applied for the right to the iPad name in six classifications, including in two classifications already held by STMicroelectronics, categories 9 and 16.

Category 9 deals with electronics and components, while category 16 deals with use of the name in print on everything from boxes and paper to software and computer guides.

When asked about whether his company will seek a deal with Apple or file a lawsuit over the trademark, STMicroelectronics President and CEO Carlo Bozotti said "Our ambition is to have a great customer named Apple."

He declined to comment on any specific action the company might take.

ST registered the name IPAD as a trademark in the EU on September 14, 2001, and the mark is set to expire on September 1, this year according to the office's trademark database.

Another company, Siemens, registered a trademark for the name iPAD in 2007, but in a different classification, motors and engines.

Apple has run into a few trademark difficulties in recent years.

Japan's Fujitsu built a mobile device it has marketed in the US and elsewhere as the iPAD in since 2002, though there is some controversy over whether or not it still owns the U.S. trademark, according to reports.

Apple also ran into a tiff with Cisco Systems, which owned the trademark for the iPhone name. Cisco sued Apple a day after it announced the iPhone in early 2007.

The companies eventually settled their dispute and Apple's iPhone is now one of the most popular smartphones in the world.

Apple unveiled the iPad tablet computer in a highly anticipated conference last month.

The device has a 9.7in screen and is being sold as a multimedia and internet device. It will be available in late March.

See also: 'Apple iPad' searches used to spread malware