retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Reuters reports this morning that the US Patent and Trademark Office has "granted Apple's request last week for trademarks on the minimalist design and layout of its retail outlets," or what is commonly called "trade dress."

According to the story, the "description of the trademarks includes 'a clear glass storefront surrounded by a paneled facade' and, within the store, an 'oblong table with stools ... set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall'."

And, the story says, "To be successful in a trade dress claim, Apple would need to show that consumers confuse an allegedly infringing store design with its own."

While such protections will not extend beyond US borders, it is expected that Apple will use its domestic trademark protection to file for such protections in other countries, such as China, where it has had to deal with copycat stores trying to pass themselves off as the real thing.

While I have to wonder how the Apple trademarks will affect the new Microsoft Stores - which sure seem to fit into at least some of the descriptions - I do think it is fair to say that the Apple Stores are distinct and differentiated entities ... a very specific retail creation that deserves trademarking. It is extraordinary to realize that the very first Apple Store opened less than a dozen years ago ... and it is hard to remember what I did for computer expertise before they existed.
KC's View: