WePad is now called WeTab – under pressure from Apple?

Neofonie, the German company behind the much-hyped iPad rival WePad, has changed the name of its tablet computer to WeTab, in a surprise move. The company has announced the name change on its Facebook page, stopping short of explaining why.

We have a sneaking suspicion a certain computer and smartphone maker based in Cupertino has something to do with it, though.

The statement on the Facebook account reads:

“Liebe Freunde, im Zuge der Umbenennung des WePad in WeTab gestalten wir heute die gesamte Außenkommunikation entsprechend um. Diese Fanpage bekommt in wenigen Minuten einen neuen Namen und ist dann unter facebook.com/wetab erreichbar. Ihr bleibt automatisch Mitglied und wir hoffen, Ihr bleibt auch Fans des WeTab. Das Tablet bleibt das Gleiche, nur der Name ändert sich.

Viel Spaß hier weiterhin,
Euer WeTab-Team”

We’re going to assume your German is a little rusty; it simply says the name of the device has been changed, but that the Facebook fans will remain fans even if though the URL is now facebook.com/wetab, and that the tablet computer will stay the same.

Even though Apple does not own the trademark for ‘pad’, chief executive Steve Jobs has in the past already claimed that it is, namely in an emailed response to journalPad app developer Chris Ostmo.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Apple’s legal team has pressured Neofonie to change the name of its tablet computer to WeTab – we’ve contacted both companies for confirmation.

Update: official statement from Neofonie is in:

To clearly differentiate our products within the international market for tablet computers, as of today we have changed the product name of our tablet computer from WePad to WeTab. Similarly, the company formerly known as WePad GmbH will now trade under WeTab GmbH. This change only concerns the name of the product and company. All other particulars and pre-orders are not affected.

Needless to say, that’s a bogus reason; surely the need to differentiate the product within the international market would have been crystal clear from the get-go.

Meanwhile, one ‘fan’ has uploaded a slightly different new logo to Neofonie’s Facebook page, expressing his disappointment with the company:

(Thanks to ming-han for the tip!)