Apple has patented the Apple Watch, wait, what?

The Apple Watch design is now under the protection of the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Yes, the company’s fledgling wearable can no longer be copied, at least without serious legal reprisal.

The USPTO officially issued the patent on Tuesday, locking down the smartwatch’s chassis design.

The patent takes the form of nine sketches portraying the Apple Watch from various angles – no stone unturned, as they say.

If this news seems like it’s coming a year late, then you’re technically correct. This highlights just how long and tedious the patenting process can be.

Apple actually applied for the patent back in August 2014, so it’s been nearly a year since the company first hoped to secure its Watch designs.

Interestingly, this means that Apple only patented the design mere weeks before the September unveiling of the Apple Watch.

Related: Apple Watch vs Android Wear

The device listed in the patent is simply named ‘Electronic device’, which is clearly an effort to conceal the name of the then-upcoming smartwatch.

This might be the thing to put a stopper on the cheap Apple Watch knock-offs we’ve seen coming out of China.

The Apple Watch was made available to buy April 24, and marks the company’s first foray in the wearables market.

Orders have been very strong so far, leaving many pre-order customers still awaiting shipment of their Apple Watches.