Trending: Amazon expands Bezos’ elite ‘S-team,’ adding 6 execs from emerging branches of the company has quietly applied for trademarks on the name and logo of Lab126 — the internal group behind the Amazon Kindle e-reader and, by all accounts, an upcoming Android tablet from the Seattle company.

The trademark applications, spotted by GeekWire this weekend, were filed Aug. 16 under the classification, “design and development of computer hardware and software.”

The timing could be a coincidence, but the fact that Amazon is suddenly getting more serious about protecting the Lab126 brand (after using it to do business since 2006) looks like further evidence that the company is getting set to launch that long-rumored tablet. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Amazon will release the tablet by October, which means the unveiling could come any day now.

And that would mean the showdown with Apple is about to begin. With its customer base, e-commerce platform, cloud computing infrastructure, Kindle experience and existing catalogs of digital books, movies and television shows, Amazon has long been viewed by analysts as one of the few companies with the potential to seriously challenge the iPad in the tablet market.

The image shown in Amazon's trademark filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

That’s even more true now that HP has decided to stop making WebOS devices, including the TouchPad.

One popular theory is that Amazon will undercut Apple on price — selling its Android tablet for as little as $250 with the goal of making up the difference on digital content sales and subscriptions.

According to a New York Times story last year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos originally envisioned Lab126 as a development lab for a range of digital media devices, but its primary public focus up to this point has been on the Kindle. A teaser on the Lab126 website shows the evolution of Kindles and a placeholder at the end labeled “the next revolution,” hinting at a future device.

Lab126 is based near Apple in Cupertino, Calif., and earlier this year was rumored to be taking a large amount of additional space in the neighborhood, after posting a bunch of job openings for Android developers.

Whether the Lab126 logo would actually be used in association with Amazon tablet, or on the device itself, isn’t clear from the trademark filings. It might just be a case Amazon covering its bases legally, with Lab126 set to take on a higher profile.

Then again, that sure looks a lot like a power button doesn’t it?

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