I retired in April 2013 after 25 years as a librarian at the British Library specialising in inventions. This included running numerous workshops; writing books on inventions and a work blog; carrying out searches for clients; and one-to-one meetings with inventors. [more]


12 November 2013

Apple's store design trade mark

I've just come across a story on Apple registering a trade mark for the appearance of their stores.

Steve Jobs was responsible for Apple opening sleek, attractive and expensive-looking stores in busy central city sites rather than in out of town sites. People said it would never work, yet the stores typically have the highest sales per square foot in each city. There is a minimum of stock, and the emphasis is on getting consumers to try out the products and receiving free advice -- and, of course, placing orders. There are  now over 400, with 37 plus in the UK alone.

Apple always wants to protect the look of their products, and it seems that their stores are no exception. I was alerted to this by a story on Mashable called Apple Store Design gets trademark approval.

There are two, one in black and white and the other in colour, and were both registered on the 22 January 2013 as # 4277913-14.. Below is the colour version.

Below is the black and white version.

Trade marks (trademarks in US use) must be registered for one or more classes or activities rather than for everything, and these are in Class 35, with their specific activity spelt out (as required):

Retail store services featuring computers, computer software, computer peripherals, mobile phones, consumer electronics and related accessories, and demonstration of products relating thereto. FIRST USE: 20060900. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20060900

As the article says, a description of what the trade mark looks like is given. In full, for the color version it states:

Color is not claimed as a feature of the mark. The mark consists of the design and layout of a retail store. The store features a clear glass storefront surrounded by a paneled facade consisting of large, rectangular horizontal panels over the top of the glass front, and two narrower panels stacked on either side of the storefront. Within the store, rectangular recessed lighting units traverse the length of the store's ceiling. There are cantilevered shelves below recessed display spaces along the side walls, and rectangular tables arranged in a line in the middle of the store parallel to the walls and extending from the storefront to the back of the store. There is multi-tiered shelving along the side walls, and a oblong table with stools located at the back of the store, set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall. The walls, floors, lighting, and other fixtures appear in dotted lines and are not claimed as individual features of the mark; however, the placement of the various items are considered to be part of the overall mark.

I must say that it's hard to see all that detail in the drawings.

What surprises me is how they intend to use the trade mark. Are people really going to identify the stores by seeing these drawings in advertising ? And why such a detailed description of the interior ?

A cynic might say that the aim was to discourage others from using the distinctive look of the stores. That is the role of registered designs (design patents in the US).

The distinctive staircases are the subject of two design patents and one utility patent application, as shown on the IfoAppleStore website.

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