updated 03:06 pm EST, Wed January 30, 2013
Could be used as weapon against 'clone' stores
The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple trademarks on the design of its retail stores, Reuters reports. Filings describe a "clear glass storefront surrounded by a paneled facade," and an interior with an "oblong table with stools...set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall." Apple first applied for the trademarks in May 2010, but only won them on January 22nd of this year.
Apple Stores are known for their signature look, and have been increasingly emulated by other retailers around the world. In the US the most prominent example may be Microsoft, whose Microsoft Stores have sometimes been accused of copying Apple verbatim. In some cities, such as Austin, Microsoft Stores are within eyesight of their Apple counterparts.
Apple could conceivably use the new trademarks to pursue Microsoft, but in any retail dispute the company would have to prove that shoppers are mistaking one store design for another, which is unlikely in Microsoft's case. Instead Apple may be hoping to deter stores intentionally passing themselves off as official Apple outlets -- something that has occurred in China, but not in the US so far.