back to article Europe's highest court: Apple CAN trademark its retail store layout

Europe's highest court has stated that Apple can indeed trademark the layout of its stores - the iAltars - in a ruling that could ultimately dunk copycat retailers in hot water with the litigious US titan. The decision follows a spat last year, when the German Patent and Trademark Office said Apple could not extend the 2010 US …

  1. magickmark


    Do the tables have rounded corners? :D

  2. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Congratulations Apple, good luck with that. I've promised to never step foot in an iStore so I won't see your design for myself.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      step foot?

      I thought it was only wrestlers who made this mistake. Promise to never step into an iStore or promise to never set foot in an iStore. "Step foot" is redundant, a step involves a foot. I expect you hold down the fort as well...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: step foot?

        > a step involves a foot.

        Tell Oscar Pistorius that.

        1. Amorous Cowherder

          Re: step foot?

          Ooh you wicked child!


    2. Tom 35 Silver badge


      I just stand outside and use their wifi.

  3. Natalie Gritpants

    I've copyrighted the layout of my local plumber merchant

    Scratched and dirty lino floor, faded prints on the wall, a big counter with no-one behind it when you walk in. After a five minute delay a customer service representative (in grubby brown overcoat thing) walks in and then walks out. Five minutes after that they come out again and speak to you in Dothrakian.

  4. tojb

    Sigh... insanity as usual. Noone is likely to mistakenly think they are in an apple shop and accidentally pay double what their new ithing is worth, just because the layout is about the same as one. Or are they? Surely the presence or absence of a big fruit sign is clue enough?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is a shop near me that is an Apple reseller that has copied the store design to a T. The logos are plastered all over the place and they sell mainly Apple products (although they also sell all high value electronics such as sonos stuff) It really is hard to tell if it is an Apple store or not (and many people in town refer to it as "the apple store" despite the fact that the name is nothing like Apple), other than the fact that the person behind the till actually knows what they are talking about!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > The logos are plastered all over the place

        Apple's logo is trademarked and there are are severe restrictions upon how you can use it and in what settings - even if you are selling their products.

        This alone would give Apple the ability to shut down the clone store without the EU granting them a trademark on a store layout.

    2. VinceH

      "Noone is likely to mistakenly think they are in an apple shop and accidentally pay double what their new ithing is worth, just because the layout is about the same as one."

      I dunno, Apple clearly thinks they will... because, well, they do, don't they?

  5. David Webb


    Judges be smoking crack, there must be millions of stores around the world so there has to be stores that have a layout identical or very similar to Apple stores, how can you get a copyright on where you place furniture? Prior art = "yeah, we had a counter.... here"

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Crack

      "Prior art" applies to patents though.

    2. Steven Roper

      Re: Crack

      "Judges be smoking crack"

      Or collecting little brown envelopes quietly slipped through their mailboxes by Apple executives...?

      1. Fluffy Bunny

        Re: Crack

        "Little brown evelopes quietly slipped through their mailboxes" - er, no. What is done these days is to contribute heavily to their grandchildren's schools, local Rotary, Lions, etc. Making sure His Honour is told about the donations outside of the public eye. How do you think Australia got the Olympics in 2000. Or Brazil?

  6. Bob Wheeler

    Depressing => "the layout of a retail store"

    Just what do they think they are doing here? How many ways can you layout a retail store? Really, how many ways?

  7. Stevie Silver badge


    Clearly a transparent opening move to litigate against the Raspberry Pi "Pi Tin" manufacturers for copying their design in miniature.

    I see right through this.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @David Webb

    They were granted a trademark not copyright, sigh. The rules surrounding the two are very different and confer different rights. The most obvious difference you will immediately come across is the fact that you have to pay to register a trademark* whereas copyright is free and immediate once the work has been created. Another difference is that you can lose a trademark even if it is registered if it becomes diluted. For example: I'm going to hoover the house after a good googling for aspirin.

    * there are situations where you can apply to the courts to protect your trademark even where you haven't registered it if you can clearly prove that it is a mark you are using for trading e.g. imagine Apple had forgotten to trademark their fruity logo, it's unlikely you would get away with using it or registering it yourself.

  9. Jason Hindle

    Just to be clear here

    And I say this is an all round Mac head and general purpose fanboi.... Apple has patented a method of producing a store that is functionally unusable at the weekends and on holidays, when it is too busy to be able to attract the attention of the staff. Even for things you can pick up off the shelf, there's no checkout as such. Instead, you have to find someone. I know check out queues are terribly old fashioned, but at least you know where you stand with them (and get service in accordance of when you arrived).

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: Just to be clear here

      My thought exactly. Who is going to "copy" a store that is unable to functiun as such except when it's nigh-empty? I've set foot in an Apple store twice by myself. Both times I exited the store empty-handed after more than 30 min of fruitless waiting, and got the stuff I needed from a generic computer store, in perhaps 10 minutes, despite the fact that the vendors in an Apple store are often almost as numerous as the customers and the generic computer store has 1 person behind the counter, period (perhaps 2 in absolute rush periods, like around xmas).

      1. mad_dr

        Re: Just to be clear here

        "more than 30 min of fruitless waiting"

        I see what you did there. :)

    2. tellytart

      Re: Just to be clear here

      Or, if you own an iPad or iPhone (or even iPod Touch), you can install the Apple Store app, scan the items barcode in the app, pay for it via itunes, and walk out of the store without need to queue up for a sales assistant.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

        Re: Just to be clear here

        Great. And your physical item (an Apple-to-standard cable adapter, in this case) is delivered over the air via iTunes. All hail iTunes!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just to be clear here

        How about if I walk out without paying?

  10. Philanthropic Philanderer


    Look Apple, you are raking in billions. Billions that you can either spend upon expensive lawyers, or you know... make products?

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. VinceH

    "Apple is as fiercely protective over its own stores, and those set up by its shrinking legion of Apple Premium resellers everything it thinks it can get away with, as it is the product sold in those retail arenas."


  13. Terry 6 Silver badge


    As much as I loath most of the Apple istuff, I have to grudgingly admit that they have created an instantly recognisable (if horrible) image for their stores.

  14. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Apple must buy legal representation in bulk....

    Cupertino, California--five years ago.

    Steve Jobs: YOU DID WHAT?!! You committed us to paying for 1 million hours of outside legal representation each year for the next 10 years!!?

    General Counsel: But Steve, at these prices that works out to $38 an hour! We can't lose on this!

    Steve Jobs: Great.... (Sighs). Well, as long as we have the lawyers, let's put them to work on something.

  15. Mitoo Bobsworth


    Just sad.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    The Starship iEnterprise

    Has anyone noticed the similarities between the Bridge of the Enterprise and the Apple product.

  17. sisk

    And here I thought the US government had the market on patent stupidity cornered.

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