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Apple Store layout becomes European trademark

  • Apple Santa Monica
  • Apple Covent Garden
  • Apple Store Drawing

By Jane McCallion

Posted on 11 Jul 2014 at 11:15

Next time you walk into an Apple Store in Europe, you are potentially stepping on trademarked ground.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled the "curves and shapes" of the iPhone-maker's stores are distinctive enough to constitute a trademark.

The Apple Store layout, described by the company as "retail store services featuring computers, computer software, computer peripherals, mobile phones, consumer electronics and related accessories and demonstrations of products relating thereto" and accompanied by the picture below, was trademarked in the US in 2010.

Apple Store Drawing

However, when the company applied to the German Patent and Trade Mark Office for a similar trademark in Germany, it was denied on the basis "consumers would not see it as an indication of the commercial origin of the goods".

Apple appealed to a higher patent authority in Germany, which referred the case to the ECJ to clarify "whether the representation of the layout of a retail store, by a design alone, without any indication of size or proportions, may be registered as a trade mark" and should be "treated in the same way as 'packaging'."

The ECJ's answer was yes: the Apple Store design is so distinctive it's effectively a sign "capable of distinguishing the 'goods' or 'services'" of Apple's business from its competitors'.

"A sign representing the layout of the flagship stores of a manufacturer of goods may lawfully be registered not only for those goods but also for services, so long as they do not form an integral part of the offer for sale of those goods," the ruling reads.

However, it added an important proviso, that the "depicted layout departs significantly from the norm or customs of the economic sector concerned", setting the bar quite high for any who would follow in Apple's footsteps.

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User comments

A Shop Front/Layout Patented????

What a load of b*ll*cks!

By jontym123 on 11 Jul 2014

Correction

Oops! Trademarked, not patented.

By jontym123 on 11 Jul 2014

Ooops!

Trade marked, not patented.

By jontym123 on 11 Jul 2014

And yet..

if you show anyone that mockup drawing they would immediately say Apple Store. There's no denying that it is theirs

By TimoGunt on 11 Jul 2014

@TimoGunt

As someone who has never bee inside an Apple Store, that mocked up drawing looks more like a design for a works canteen than anything else.

"There's no denying that it is theirs"

Even though I now know it's meant to be an Apple Store, I really can't see anything uniquely "Apple" in such a generic sketch.

By Alfresco on 11 Jul 2014

@Alfresco

To say you haven't been in a store, your comments are actually very good, but let me quickly explain what is missing from the generic sketch is actually what is missing from the store, bloody cash registers and an easy place to pay for what you want!

By markcr6 on 11 Jul 2014

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