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EU ruling allows Apple to trademark its store layouts


Love or hate them, it's hard to argue that Apple's retail stores aren't highly distinctive. That's what the EU's highest court thought when it overruled a German verdict and said that Apple's store design could be registered as a trademark in Europe. Though Apple holds a store trademark granted last year by the USPTO, Germany's patent office rejected it, despite admitting that the retail layout was "an essential aspect of (its) business." The Court of Justice of the EU disagreed, saying that "an integral collection of lines, curves and shapes" (in Apple's stores) fulfill all the criteria for a trademark. It noted that any store design like Apple's which "departs significantly" from others in the same sector also merits trademark protection. Meanwhile, Apple may be planning changes to its stores anyway, having just hired ex-Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as head of retail. For now, though, you're less likely to walk into a store like this in Europe.

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