When Apple tried to trademark their stores, the US Patent and Trademark Office rejected their request twice on the grounds that the design was not “inherently distinctive.” The company fired back with a 122-page document filled with customer surveys and photos of the stores to argue their case. That seemed to convince the USPTO, as they have now approved Apple’s trademark for their storefronts.
Putting aside the fact that there’s usually a giant apple hanging over them, Apple’s retail stores are pretty distinctive: covered in glass, and lined with numerous tables where you can walk up and try all their devices. No wonder other companies, like Microsoft and Samsung, have been accused of “borrowing” from Apple Stores. The question, however, is are the designs used by Apple uniquely theirs or are the designs just an application of common design principles, something that cannot be patented? Apparently Apple and USPTO think the latter.
Apple’s glass staircases like the one above are already protected through a design patent. This latest trademark covers the lined rectangular tables, paneled glass facade, and recessed lighting units. The Verge notes that if a company now designs a store that consumers confuse for an Apple store, they could be liable for trade dress infringement.
What do you think of Apple trademarking its store designs? Tell us in the comments!