Apple trademarks its Stores to deter copycats

Apple trademarks its Stores to deter copycats

Summary: Apple has been granted a trademark on the design of its Apple Stores by the US Patent & Trademark Office.

TOPICS: Apple, Patents

Apple has trademarked the design of its retail stores in an attempt to prevent copycat shops from being set up.

The US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) approved Apple's request to trademark the design and layout of its stores last week, according to patent office records.

The approval was granted more than two years after the company first filed the application to trademark its stores in May 2010.

Apple has requested that no store be allowed to replicate various features, including "a clear glass storefront surrounded by a panelled facade" or an "oblong table with stools...set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall."

A fake Apple Store in the Chinese city of Kunming received international news coverage in 2011 after a blogger published photos showing the white Apple logo and long wooden tables inside. Several other fake Apple Stores were opened in the same city but were later ordered to shut down by Chinese authorities.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was heavily involved with the design of Apple Stores and is listed as the inventor on the patent for Apple's all-glass staircase.

The trademark on Apple Stores does not extend beyond the US, according to a Reuters source, who added that companies that file for domestic protection usually go for similar protection in other countries they operate in.

Apple declined to comment on the trademark approval.

Topics: Apple, Patents

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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  • Seriously?

    And people took the mickey for the rounded corners thing.
    So no one can have a store that has "a clear glass storefront surrounded by a panelled facade"? What? Apple invented that concept. FFS this is getting unblievable if this story is true. Hands up anyone with any confidence left in the USPTO..............anyone?..........there must be someone?

    Remind me, who's meant to think different?
    Little Old Man
    • LoL

      I totally agree with you. Most of the stores in the malls around us in St. Louis county have a clear glass storefront surrounded by a panelled facade" and only thing they miss were the iPhones, iPads, Macs etc. on those tables and missing Apple Logo, and Apple Sales people. I think those stores must change their looks now. ;-)
      Ram U
    • I doubt that Build a Bear or The GAP would be sued by Apple

      if they have clear glass storefront surrounded by a panelled facade. It's hard to confuse the the two with an Apple store once you walk in.

      Now if an Electronics Retailer started up next week with a look alike store
      or one with long tables and stoles selling "knock-offs" there may be an issue.
      William Farrel
      • It's a fair point

        I was being rather flippant. I presume they will have to go for the full works, rectangle tables and stools etc before any cases would ever be considered for the lawyers.
        I hope.
        Little Old Man
      • That I can see...

        and that makes sense. Must like products and company/product names.
    • Microsoft trademarks its stores
      • --

        Trademark registration 4036534 covers the design of “a retail store with four curved tabletops at the front and rear side walls and a rectangular band displaying changing video images on the walls.” The trademark covers stores selling computer equipment, phones, books, backpacks and novelty items.
        • Fair enough

          apple are just playing catch-up. I stand corrected, this lunacy began over a year ago at least and not at the hands of apple.
          Little Old Man
      • I agree, USPTO shouldn't have issued patents on that

        type, but they should elaborate more instead of limiting to just looks and interior. These patents look very generic, but when it comes to Microsoft one it was talking about the interior unlike Apple's, which is talking about exterior also. Here is snippet from MSFT application to USPTO using their Minneapolis office Looks.

        "The applicant is not claiming color as a feature of the mark. The mark consists of three-dimensional trade dress depicting the interior of a retail store with curved table inserts lining the walls of the store and a wrap-around continuos video screen band. The matter shown depicted in the drawing in broken lines is not part of the mark and serves only to show the position or placement of the mark."
        Ram U
        • I guess you are not smart enough ...

          .. to know the difference between a TRADEMARK and a patent.
      • Microsoft trademarks its stores

        Unreal Microsoft.
      • Microsoft patented their stores, and yet those are Apple store copycats
        • In what way?

          I haven't seen video dashboards in Apple store hanging throughout walls. I haven't seen curved tables at Apple stores like the ones at Microsoft stores.
          Ram U
          • The tables you see in the photo I linked are not curved

            And everything else besides the dashboards is the same, conceptually.
        • What...

          keep drinking you not drunk enough because you can type.
    • I'd like to replace

      any references to apple with MS and back date these comments to 2011 please.
      Little Old Man
    • Cool. We once again get to see hordes of

      people proudly proclaiming their ignorance (with enthusiasm) on what trade dress actually is.
      • I agree even though I don't like it

        Ram U
  • This is insane...

    Can U.S. intellectual property law become any more corrupt and anti-competitive? There will now be a land-grab, a mad rush to trademark store layouts (if for no other reason than defensive ones). And from now on, any would-be retailer, any hopeful restauranteur, every person who wants to set up a small business will have to ensure that the proposed layout for his place of business doesn't infringe on someone else's trademarked layout?

    The only thing more despicable than the noted Chinese propensity for stealing Intellectual Property is the American legal system's willingness to assign intellectual property rights to any and everything.
    • ---

      Retail store services featuring computers, computer software, computer peripherals, mobile phones, consumer electronics and related accessories, and demonstration of products relating thereto