The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has given Apple trademarks on its retail store design and layout.
The Apple Store design submitted for the trademark application.
Documents at the USPTO website show that Apple has been finally granted a trademark to protect its Apple Stores after previous unsuccessful requests.
The trademark covers the iconic glass "panelled facade, consisting of large, rectangular horizontal panels", of the stores, along with the "rectangular tables arranged in a line in the middle of the store, parallel to the walls".
In fact, the rather detailed trademark even covers the recessed lighting, "cantilevered shelves", wall shelving and an "oblong table with stools located at the back of the store".
Surprisingly, the placement of Apple's products around the store is "not considered to be part of the overall mark".
Is this Apple protecting its brand against the growing rise of manufacturer-based concept stores? Or just another example of Apple's increasingly aggressive policy in regard to patents and trademarks?
In US trademark law, any copy of the Apple Store would need to be capable of confusing customers into thinking it was an Apple retail outlet before the trademark would have any legal ramifications on the offending shop.