Apple Store design and layout can be trademarked in Europe, court rules

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2014
The European Union's top court ruled Thursday that Apple's distinctive retail store layout is worthy of trademark protection under European law, allowing the company to enjoy the same legal cover on the old continent that it secured in the U.S. last year.

Apple Store TM
Source: USPTO


"From this the Court concludes that the representation of the layout of a retail store, by a design alone, without indicating the size or the proportions, may be registered as a trade mark for services," the European Court of Justice wrote in its decision. The court's directive was first noted by the Wall Street Journal.

Apple submitted its store design for protection to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2010, and the application was approved in January of 2013. Soon after, the company applied to extend that trademark to Europe and was rebuffed by the German patent office, which argued that such a trademark would not be valid under EU law.

German courts escalated a review of the law to the ECJ, which has the final say on interpretations of EU law.

Apple often cites is expansive retail empire as a major competitive advantage, and rivals -- including heavyweights like Microsoft -- have attempted to mimic the stores' design and layout, generally without success. Thursday's ruling comes as the iPhone maker is in the midst of a major expansion under new retail chief Angela Ahrendts, including what appears to be a new flagship store in a nearly 250-year-old building in the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    A win is a win. Good on Apple in this case.
  • Reply 2 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,383member
    That's a funny feeling. With my partners at the time, I opened an Apple Center (a similar concept to the Apple Store which Apple furnished with Bang Olufsen furniture and grey and white striped carpets) in Edinburgh in an equally old building except ours was on the Royal Mile. This was in the mid 1980s. We had a dedicated showroom area, training room and repair facility, we even had a image setter room for out-putting film from PageMaker and Illustrator etc.. It had an Italian style coffee bar upstairs over looking the Royal Mile where clients could sip coffee and chat with my sales staff. Here is one of the few photographs I still have, this inside the show room showing the furniture.

    [IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/45609/width/350/height/700[/IMG]
  • Reply 3 of 24
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    That's a funny feeling. With my partners at the time, I opened an Apple Center (a similar concept to the Apple Store which Apple furnished with Bang Olufsen furniture and grey and white striped carpets) in Edinburgh in an equally old building except ours was on the Royal Mile. This was in the mid 1980s. We had a dedicated showroom area, training room and repair facility, we even had a image setter room for out-putting film from PageMaker and Illustrator etc.. It had an Italian style coffee bar upstairs over looking the Royal Mile where clients could sip coffee and chat with my sales staff. Here is one of the few photographs I still have, this inside the show room showing the furniture.




    Sometimes I forget how much history and experience this forum has :)  Cool to see this type of stuff. Looks like a IIci or cx and the lovable Mac Luggable.

  • Reply 4 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,383member
    Sometimes I forget how much history and experience this forum has :)  Cool to see this type of stuff. Looks like a IIci or cx and the lovable Mac Luggable.

    And I still look exactly the same too .. :rolleyes:

    It's a cx I think ... I'll blow up there image and look ... I wish I'd realized what a part of history all that was back then and taken more pictures. Heck before this place I had a another in England with 5 branches around the country selling Apple ][s, ///s and Lisa ... then Mac of course. I have only hand full of pictures from over 36 years of being totally involved with Apple. That really annoys the heck out of me now! That said my play room here in Florida is stacked with many Macs from over the years but sadly my Apple ][e, disk drives and monitor (all pristine in boxes) vanished from my dad's basement in Grange over Sands, Cumbria just after he died a few years back.
  • Reply 5 of 24
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    And I still look exactly the same too .. image



    It's a cx I think ... I'll blow up there image and look ... I wish I'd realized what a part of history all that was back then and taken more pictures. Heck before this place I had a another in England with 5 branches around the country selling Apple ][s, ///s and Lisa ... then Mac of course. I have only hand full of pictures from over 36 years of being totally involved with Apple. That really annoys the heck out of me now! That said my play room here in Florida is stacked with many Macs from over the years but sadly my Apple ][e, disk drives and monitor (all pristine in boxes) vanished from my dad's basement in Grange over Sands, Cumbria just after he died a few years back.

    I was wondering if that was you or not :)  Certainly now with digital photography, we tend to have many more pictures of things. Back then with film, people tended to be much more selective.

     

    That sucks about the ][e :(

     

    Back on top (ha), I wonder how long Apple will themselves even stick to this store design. Will it be revised with Angela taking over?

  • Reply 6 of 24
    rs9rs9 Posts: 68member
    What ever happened to the Microsoft Kiosks and impending stores that popped up here and there last year?
  • Reply 7 of 24
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by TheUnfetteredMind View Post

    Back on top (ha), I wonder how long Apple will themselves even stick to this store design. Will it be revised with Angela taking over?




    The implication is that she’s the one who made the change.

  • Reply 8 of 24
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member

    I really don't see how this survives a test of obviousness or prior art, but the EU is free to run their set of countries anyway they chose.

     

    The real problem I have is that, at least in the US, a properly defended trademark never expires.  If enough layouts are trademarked, at some point shop owners could be subject to trademark trolls demanding ransoms for infringing on store layout trademarks or patents.

  • Reply 9 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    john.b wrote: »
    I really don't see how this survives a test of obviousness or prior art, but the EU is free to run their set of countries anyway they chose.

    The real problem I have is that, at least in the US, a properly defended trademark never expires.  If enough layouts are trademarked, at some point shop owners could be subject to trademark trolls demanding ransoms for infringing on store layout trademarks or patents.

    I'd love to see Apple granted proper legal protections for this in China...but I don't see that ever happening.
  • Reply 10 of 24
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post




    That Mac Portable cost $7,300 in 1988

  • Reply 11 of 24
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,001member
    700

    What furniture? All I see is captain bad ass Chuck Norris. :lol:
  • Reply 12 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,383member
    mstone wrote: »
    That Mac Portable cost $7,300 in 1988

    Really? Wow and I probably had a few in stock too. I had forgotten what they cost. The Lisa always stuck in my mind as the costliest beast. Not that a fully loaded Apple /// with Profile and all the trimmings wasn't getting up there too. And people moan about an iMac or MBA costing $1,000 today :D. We bought in £s of course and back then I seem to recall the exchange rate was a tad better, I could be wrong I have't checked.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,383member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    What furniture? All I see is captain bad ass Chuck Norris. :lol:

    ROFL, that was after a hair cut too! It is funny seeing ourselves from past eras of fashions ... not that I look much different now ... lol
  • Reply 14 of 24
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post



    That Mac Portable cost $7,300 in 1988




    Really? Wow and I probably had a few in stock too. I had forgotten what they cost. 

    Add another $2,000 for the additional 8 MB of RAM option. It came with 1 MB. You could have a max of 9 MB.

  • Reply 15 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    mstone wrote: »
    Add another $2,000 for the additional 8 MB of RAM option

    Are you suffering from "road rag"?
  • Reply 16 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,383member
    mstone wrote: »
    Add another $2,000 for the additional 8 MB of RAM option. It came with 1 MB. You could have a max of 9 MB.

    So that's why my bank was always moaning about my stock levels! :\
  • Reply 17 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,383member
    john.b wrote: »
    I really don't see how this survives a test of obviousness or prior art, but the EU is free to run their set of countries anyway they chose.

    The real problem I have is that, at least in the US, a properly defended trademark never expires.  If enough layouts are trademarked, at some point shop owners could be subject to trademark trolls demanding ransoms for infringing on store layout trademarks or patents.

    sssshhhhhhhhhh .... don't give them ideas.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    A win is a win. Good on Apple in this case.

    They tried to file for the same trademark here a few years back, however since Apple didn't have a store in Switzerland yet it was denied. In the mean time our big Apple reseller DataQuest converted all of their stores to look like Apples. So when Apple finally opened their first store in Zurich the first thing they did was file for the trademark again, it was denied, this time because it would have interfered with a Swissy company. The Apple lawyers told the commission that it could affect future relations with Apple, as in no more stores, the commission responded with a stern don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. We're all kinds of nuts here. Apple also ran into some problems with their employees, all businesses are required to hire a certain percentage of locals, it's some absurd ratio, like 60 percent, Apple didn't pass a spot check and was forced to hire more Swiss people.

    DataQuest

    head_bhp__head-large.png

    I have to say I prefer shopping at Dataquest, one I've known the people who work their for years, two they sell used and demo models, three I don't have to go to Zurich, the Dataquest store is only 5 minutes away.
  • Reply 19 of 24

    They were just as useless.  I've been to both, I use both Apple and Windows, and they're just the tech industry's versions of automobile showrooms. 

  • Reply 20 of 24
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,870member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    What furniture? All I see is captain bad ass Chuck Norris. :lol:

    Chuck Norris doesn't need a phone to make calls.
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