Apple trademarks "distinctive design"
of its stores


Apple trademarks store design, photo by Shutterstock

News: Apple has trademarked the design and layout of its retail stores, nine years after the first Apple Store opened in Virginia, USA.

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office this week published the tech giant’s latest trademark certificate, which covers the "distinctive design & layout" of the 400 stores worldwide, reports Patently Apple.

Apple trademarks store design

Above: Apple Store trademark image, via Patently Apple

The trademark consists of two designs, one in colour and one in black and white. Both present the typical Apple Store layout, with wide tables in the middle and benches around the sides where customers can try out the latest products, as well as the Genius Bar helpdesk at the back.

Steve Jobs, the firm’s late co-founder, and Ron Johnson, the company's former head of retail, are credited with the design and layout of the store. The first was opened in May 2001 in Tysons Corner, Virginia, but its now trademarked look was first introduced in Pasadena, California.

Apple trademarks store design, photo by Shutterstock

Earlier this week we reported on proposals for a bookless library in Texas with a layout based on an Apple Store.

Apple has been caught up in numerous patent disputes, losing its long-running battle with Samsung last year when a high court ruled that the Korean manufacturer's tablet computers were "not as cool" as the iPad. Another rival, HTC, also defeated Apple in a dispute over the use of swipe gestures in touchscreen phones.

Copying is an increasingly important issue in architecture and design, with developers in China recently accused of pirating a building by architect Zaha Hadid currently under construction in Beijing. Plans for Hadid's Wangjing Soho complex were unveiled in August 2011, and the project is now racing to be completed before its copycat version.

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  • sor perdida

    Sounds quite abusive! It is not Apple who invented structural glass, albeit there is always an architect who conceives such spaces. That doesn’t relate with Apple’s day-to-day business… Reading between the lines, this patent frenzy is a telltale that Apple has finally reached its bluntly square, hardcore corporate status. Which is also the kiss of death for any company.

  • luke

    Seriously, since when does such a thing like “copyright” and “trademark” exist in architecture?

  • Geert

    People, please, this is not a patent for the architecture of the building, nor simply for the materials used. This is about the store concept (product placement, working products for hands on experience, genius bar for interactive helpdesk, lecture areas). These things really are a huge deal in the succes of the stores, and really are the result of tests and studies and studies and tests. This store concept is a “product” designed by Apple.

  • 01110000

    I once had admiration for Apple’s visionary design, both system and hardware. Now that the company has reached the unquestioned market leadership, Apple has simply become an “evil” company that tries to issue gagging orders on any potential competitor. And now finally: architecture and interior design? Really?

  • Pete

    I can’t help feeling that with all its patents and trade-marking, Apple is a systemically weak company that fears everything outside of itself. It has such an unhealthy attitude to competition and possession that if it were a person, it would be one of the most neurotic people you’d ever meet and a definite candidate for mandatory therapy.

  • nick

    It’s a series of tables and wall nooks. C’mon Apple.

  • dick c

    They trademarked an arrangement of furniture?

  • gork platter

    Just kill me already. This is ridiculous.

  • Jes

    So this is prep for when they sue Microsoft for their retail stores? I mean, have you seen them? Microsoft is trying a little too hard to be Apple.

  • sara

    I’m gonna trademark “open plan” and see what happens to architecture!

  • justin

    Good, let them trademark a played out aesthetic – just one more example of how out of touch they’re becoming.

  • system

    Geert is right. This isn’t a patent on the architecture. Many of the Apple stores in Europe are located within historical buildings, i.e. Paris Opera Store, and Apple can’t change, modify, rearrange, etc. anything to these existing buildings. Most significant Apple stores are like this. Apple has cleverly designed their “retail store” as another Apple product.

    But what I do find silly is Apple not only receiving a patent on their design of a glass stair but also a technical patent for the glass/hardware system. While I understand it is custom detailing, I still feel it’s a bit overboard.

    • Hayden

      “Cleverly”? You mean a consistent extension of their brand message? How exactly is that clever?

  • Olly

    Much like they trademarked their “distinctive product design”, which isn’t really theirs either. Their entire design ethos is half-inched from one of the all-time greats, Dieter Rams.

    Pioneering in terms of technology, yes, but in terms of design – phah.

  • How much is all this going to cost?

  • hegemonico

    Jesus, I hate Apple more everyday. Merciless corporatism taking over creativity. And btw, what is so distinctive about its layout?