Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) wants to be the next Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) so badly, it can trademark it.

HP is requesting a trademark for the name Palmpad, according to PC World. The move comes just as an entry for a Slate 500 tablet has been spotted on HP's website.

The rub here is that the Slate 500 is listed as a portable gadget backed by Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows 7 operating system. Wasn't HP going to sidestep Windows and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android to put all of its muscle behind Palm's webOS to power its tablet line?

Well, don't be surprised if the Slate comes out in all three flavors. Even if means competing with nearly everybody else that will be putting out Windows and Android tablets over the next few quarters, it's better than putting all of its eggs in the Palm webOS basket.

Attacking Apple's iOS from all sides appears to be the best approach. The worst thing that HP could have done was make a complete commitment to webOS as its lone bullet in the tablet space. If it flops, HP would have wasted a year.

We can't forget that Palm's webOS flopped in smartphones, leading to the fire sale of the company itself -- before Android left a mark.

The specs on HP's Slate are impressive. It also features two cameras for shooting stills and video, a move that Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM) rumored tablet is also counting on to stand out against Apple's iPad.

Apple surprisingly left out any kind of camera on its iPad, likely saving it for next year's update. As long as the Slate's rich specs aren't a battery hog or drive prices too high, adding a camera or two is the right approach. Companies can't beat Apple on style or its premium brand, so they may as well try to stand out with a product that is superior because it does more.

This may not seem like a very crowded market right now, but it will shortly. Even Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has revealed that it's working with Google on a tablet. Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) promises to be a player, too -- though it's apparently going smaller with its Streak. If you thought the smartphone and laptop markets are competitive, just imagine what the tablet space will be like once smartphone and laptop makers are in the water.

HP will be there, splashing at Apple from all sides.

Can HP stand a shot against Apple's iPad? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor choice. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days.  

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is loving his iPad, but he's not totally against picking up a rival tablet if it's up to snuff. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.