A seemingly insignificant press release from a Japanese company we’ve never even heard of has suddenly set tongues wagging about everyone’s favourite rumour – the fabled 3G iPhone.

Nagoya-based Aiphone chose this week to tell the world that it has been in talks with Apple since last summer about giving the US firm the right to use the ‘iPhone’ trademark in Japan.

You say iPhone, we say…

The possible conflict arose because, although ‘Aiphone’ and ‘iPhone’ are spelled differently in English, the Japanese rendering of both is exactly the same.

Aiphone says it has “reached a friendly agreement with Apple” that allows both to use the Japanese version within Japan.

Naturally, we have to ask why Apple should even bother going to such lengths unless it has concrete plans to bestow a 3G iPhone upon the GSM-free islands of Japan.