If you ever appreciated the interior design and layout of an Apple store and ever dreamt about replicating it anywhere, it’s time to forget that dream. According to records, last week the USPTO granted Apple’s request to trademark the minimalist design and layouts of its retail stores.
So now, if your store has “a clear glass storefront surrounded by a paneled façade,” or an “oblong table with stools … set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall,” then you might check things twice to see that the design of your store doesn’t match that of Apple’s too much.
However, Apple can hardly be blamed for such extreme steps.
In 2012, a fake store claiming to be an authentic Apple store was discovered in China featuring Apple’s logo and looking absolutely so authentic that even the salespeople working there thought they were working for Apple. The store was closed down after a blogger wrote about the fake Apple store.
However, in the process, Chinese authorities found and closed down at least 20 more fake Apple stores doing roaring business.
The design of the Apple retail outlet has always been a strong point in Apple’s branding strategy and integrated with its brand experience. In 2003, Apple was granted a design patent for the floating glass staircases. The patent on the interior design was granted on Jan 22 this year, though the application had been filed in 2010.
However, the trademark rights granted by the USPTO do not apply outside U.S., and Apple would need to obtain similar patents in other territories.
Apple’s patenting of iconic designs come under trade dress claims which associate certain designs and decors with certain establishments. In 1992, a chain of fast-food Mexican restaurants succeeded in protecting their trade dress in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.