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Apple Granted Trademark For Its Stores

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the we-invented-the-rectangular-prism dept.

Apple 272

walterbyrd sends this news from ZDNet: "The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office approved Apple's request to trademark the design and layout of its stores last week, according to patent office records. ... Apple has requested that no store be allowed to replicate various features, including 'a clear glass storefront surrounded by a panelled facade' or an 'oblong table with stools... set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall.'"

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272 comments

I imagine.... (3, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744121)

... that if Apple had thought of trying this idea of patenting or trademarking their look 30 years ago, their lawsuit against Microsoft for copying their look and feel could have gone very differently.

At least you can't say that Apple doesn't learn from their own mistakes.

Re:I imagine.... (0, Troll)

supersat (639745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744213)

... except Apple copied a lot of those ideas from Xerox PARC.

Re:I imagine.... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744263)

Yes, through payment of stock to use the ideas.

Re:I imagine.... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744353)

I hate to do this cuz it annoys the piss out of me, but *citation needed*

It's well known that Xerox parc demoed it, and the person running the demo was screaming bloody murder to her management team telling them they were giving away their future, but management insisted upon it. Apple didn't pay one red cent. Cash, stock or otherwise.

Re:I imagine.... (5, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744425)

Jobs and several Apple employees including Jef Raskin visited Xerox PARC in December 1979 to see the Xerox Alto. Xerox granted Apple engineers three days of access to the PARC facilities in return for the option to buy 100,000 shares (800,000 split-adjusted shares) of Apple at the pre-IPO price of $10 a share.[40] Jobs was immediately convinced that all future computers would use a graphical user interface (GUI), and development of a GUI began for the Apple Lisa.[41]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Inc [wikipedia.org] .

Happy?

Re:I imagine.... (1, Informative)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744511)

Giving someone an offer to buy stock in a private company at the going rate is not the same as giving them stock.

Keep in mind Apple was not a public company in 1979 and they were effectively giving themselves value of $8 million to a company that only two years ago started with $250k

Re:I imagine.... (4, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744533)

Did you not even read it? Xerox said that to get access to the facilities they had to be paid in stock options. And it wasn't buying it at the "going rate". The quote even says "at the pre-IPO price of $10 a share". That's some pretty bad reading comprehension on your part.

Re:I imagine.... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744563)

Also to add, Apple went public at $22 a share. Which means that PARC was getting their shares at half the IPO price.

Re:I imagine.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744617)

Well known in that you saw it in Pirates of Silicon Valley?

You demand a citation, but then provide no citation for your own claim.

Re:I imagine.... (1)

irving47 (73147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744427)

I believe it was the large purchase of non-voting stock (and very publicly) for a minimum of X years in exchange for not suing.

Re:I imagine.... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744467)

You believe wrong. Xerox asked for Apple to give them stock options in exchange for access to the facilities.

Re:I imagine.... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744217)

Not really. Apple lost that case based on a poorly-worded contract that gave Microsoft a perpetual license to the look-and-feel of their GUI.

Re:I imagine.... (1)

irving47 (73147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744435)

OK, that's new... Citation needed on that one...

Re:I imagine.... (5, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744489)

How is it new?

Apple had agreed to license certain parts of its GUI to Microsoft for use in Windows 1.0, but when Microsoft made changes in Windows 2.0 adding overlapping windows and other features found in the Macintosh GUI, Apple filed suit. Apple added additional claims to the suit when Microsoft released Windows 3.0.
...

Much of the court's ruling was based on the original licensing agreement between Apple and Microsoft for Windows 1.0, and this fact made the case more of a contractual matter than of copyright law, to the chagrin of Apple. This also meant that the court avoided a more far-reaching "look and feel copyright" precedent ruling. However, the case did establish that the analytic dissection (rather than the general "look and feel") of a user interface is vital to any copyright decision on such matters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Computer,_Inc._v._Microsoft_Corporation [wikipedia.org]

Only people who never actual read the ruling of the case think it had to do with being unable to copyright look-and-feel.

Daft! (1)

folderol (1965326) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744123)

That's a whole load of coffee shops going to have to close then.

Re:Daft! (2)

Spectre (1685) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744301)

Note that coffee shops are not in the same "trade" as an Apple store, so they are not impacted.

Now, if Apple had requested a servicemark instead of a trademark, that would be a different story ... but a service mark is much harder to get.

A store cannot look like a store? (1, Insightful)

Bizzeh (851225) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744125)

HMV, Game, Debenhams, JJB, DW, JD... just a few stores i can think of now that have the all glass front, the table and stool layout, currys use it, comet used to use it, asda use it in their electronics departments... seems prior art doesnt count for anything anymore, neither does "your patent cant be completely fucking retarded".

Re:A store cannot look like a store? (1, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744181)

The saving grace is that this was granted by the US PTO. As far as I can tell, it's not directly applicable in the land of all of those retailers, and I hope that maybe the UK IPO has the good sense to say "Fuck right off" to APL.

Well, I can hope, can't I?

Re:A store cannot look like a store? (3, Informative)

GodInHell (258915) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744185)

*Not* a patent. This is a trademark.

Re:A store cannot look like a store? (3, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744693)

Which is why this issuance of a trademark is so utterly silly. A patent and a copyright have time limits in exchange for a monopoly.... you give something to the world in exchange for exclusive rights.

A trademark on the other hand is indefinitely perpetual. In most cases it is a name, and most correctly used as an adjective such as "Apple computers" or "Band-Aid adhesive bandages" as in "I'm going to buy an Apple-brand computer". Trademarking a logo is certainly in the same realm as it is something distinctive which sets that business apart from others in the same trade.

This still smells strongly like a patent though or at least a misapplication of trademarks. I understand that the point is about how the store has a very distinctive look where somebody walking into a store with a similar layout with similar furniture and materials might think they are actually in an Apple store when in fact they are selling something else, like a Mapple computer [wikia.com] . Then again, IKEA tried to do the same thing with STØR [wikipedia.org] and was successful on a legal front of defending that trademark.

I still think it is abuse of the concept though. A store layout might be patentable and perhaps even deserves limited protection if it proves to be successful in moving merchandise more efficiently than their competitors. It doesn't deserve to have perpetual protection though. That is why there is confusion here, particularly because the same organization which grants patents is granting this horrible abuse of trademarks.

Re:A store cannot look like a store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744197)

The LEGO store?

The one in my mall looks similiar or even better than the Apple Store (sans the yellow rather than silver/grey color), as does the victoria's secret store (although it obviously looks less-alike as far as internal store features). The lego store on the other hand is presented VERY MUCH like the apple store, only with legos instead of Apple products on display.

This sounds like one of those patents that should be smote based on prior art relatively quickly, and I hope it is just so there's precedent against others doing it in the future.

Re:A store cannot look like a store? (2)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744279)

This sounds like one of those patents

It's not a patent.

Apple Granted Trademark For Its Stores

*facepalm*

Re:A store cannot look like a store? (2)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744235)

This has nothing to do with patents. The title of the submission even says "trademark" quite clearly. Are you illiterate?

Re:A store cannot look like a store? (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744281)

I'm not familiar with (UK?) stores, but a quick Google shows that Apple stores [apple.com] are distinctively different than Debenahms [guim.co.uk] (I don't see any video screens, and it's much more cluttered), or HMV [technobuffalo.com] (I don't see any tables or wall mounted video displays).

Apple stores do have a distinctive look, and I can't fault them for wanting to keep that unique. I don't think they're trying at all to claim the individual features, but the overall architecture created by a combination of features.

Re:A store cannot look like a store? (2)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744629)

To be truthful, the Apple store in the mall near my house is very similar to the Microsoft store located on the floor above it. I don't think they copied each other, it's just the most obvious and easy way to sell almost-identical products.

Re:A store cannot look like a store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744827)

Apple stores [apple.com]

Is it just me or has someone been playing too much Minecraft?

Re:A store cannot look like a store? (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744607)

I don't think HMV will have to worry about if for long.. even if the trademark could be enforced in the UK, Ireland, Singapore and Hong Kong.

First TFA, then TFS (summary), now TFH (Headline) (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744729)

If for some reason you can't be troubled that much, the Headline should be in your window's title bar. Unless you're using one of those browsers that's way too cool for a title bar.

When a copies an idea it becomes distinctive (0, Troll)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744833)

Dosen't Bestbuy have a clear glass storefront?

And the Apple's zealots here think Apple invented a clear glass storefront.

What about obnoxious employees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744127)

Mmmm store credit okay?

At least they stopped short of trademarking glass doors or ventilation system circulating oxygen.

Only one thing to say... (-1, Redundant)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744129)

WTF???

Re:Only one thing to say... (0)

zlives (2009072) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744245)

i was gonna go with... PENIS

Re:Only one thing to say... (0)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744399)

i was gonna go with... PENIS

or Vagina

Speechless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744133)

So when should we expect the Apple borg icon? We've given MS a lot shit over the years. Lately, though, MS seems tame (as they are not a serious player in the markets that matter) compared to some of these companies of today.

Re:Speechless (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744189)

We've given MS a lot shit over the years.

That might be understatement of the day. ;)

Lately, though, MS seems tame (as they are not a serious player in the markets that matter) compared to some of these companies of today.

Believe it or not, they're doing quite well for themselves.

http://arstechnica.com/business/2013/01/microsoft-fails-to-notice-the-death-of-the-pc-posts-record-revenue-figures-instead/ [arstechnica.com]

I should have known nobody wants to hear that, before I submitted it. I'm a dummy.

Re:Speechless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744809)

Believe it or not, they are in reality counting more than a quarter really. They deferred revenue for windows 8 for two quarters (from the sales to OEM, etc) because the product wasn't launched when those quarter reports were presented, and they were at a loss on the last quarter (for the first time in MS history). Now those figures just pop-up in this quarter report because the product was launched during that time. Taking into account that last year no consumer operating system was launched by Redmond, there's no surprise to see that the revenue went up, easy to explain when the OEMs follow suit and buy those licenses (as well as companies buying volume licensing at a large, large, large discount). So, in another words, I'm not impressed, no.

Apart from that, the most interesting bit about MS reports is always what they don't show us.

Re:Speechless (1, Troll)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744793)

Apple doesn't have much longer I think. They are going to lose with all this Android battling in the end. There are simply too many device makers out there and Google is simply smarter. The fan base of Apple iDevices has been shrinking and people stopped celbrating each new thing long ago. I haven't seen a line outside of an Apple store in I don't know how long.

Steve Jobs died of his own stupidity. Thinking different, he tried unconventional attempts at beating a treatable form of cancer. Not all of his ideas were pure gold I suppose. There may be a few other product plans left over from when he was alive, but Steve was pretty good about adjusting course with the changes in market conditions and with new technologies as they emerge. Since he's not here to make those adjustments, Apple's best hope for the next few years are that nothing significant changes and everything Steve planned on is still applicable.

I just don't see Apple at levels such as we've seen for much longer. It's more likely Apple will shrink down to near-death as it did before without Jobs... and will likely die. Apple has lost its way by going all-consumer in my opinion. They had a strong following in the design and production markets but their versions of Mac OSX seem far too consumer oriented and not so much focused on getting work done. It had been those professional users which kept Apple clinking along through the years before iPhone. But since they have pretty much let that side go, what are they going to do?

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744137)

So Apple again patented something as vague as a sneeze and no one at the USPTO office blinked? NO... the system isnt broken, its F*&$3!

Re:Seriously? (2)

Spectre (1685) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744205)

No ... no patent was asked for, and none was given.
They trademarked (not patented) a particular set of features, which is fairly common. It only prevents people in the same trade from incorporating the same combination of distinctive features and leaves the enforcement up to Apple's expense to detect and pursue.

Car examples:
Much like Jeep trademarking vehicle's with a "7 vertical slot grill between a pair of round headlights" or Harley Davidson trademarking the sound of their V-twin motorcycles.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Spectre (1685) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744289)

s/vehicle\'s/vehicles/g

Re:Seriously? (2)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744253)

No, they didn't patent anything. They did obtain a trademark, though. Something completely different. You failed at reading comprehension in school, didn't you?

fuck apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744149)

when they own a method of extractin' crap out of an a.hole we are are doomed.

in other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744157)

they didn't patent the color of the glass

If they are going to be specific... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744159)

Just use a clear urethane storefront?

A great day for FOSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744165)

It has a new unifying enemy.

Apple's done it again! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744169)

An oblong table? Any idiot could think of that. But an oblong table with stools and screens nearby? That's the genius of Apple.

Re:Apple's done it again! (1)

hduff (570443) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744207)

An oblong table? Any idiot could think of that. But an oblong table with stools and screens nearby? That's the genius of Apple.

I just assume you forgot the quotes around "genius".

Re:Apple's done it again! (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744599)

As well as the little (TM).

Re:Apple's done it again! (1)

TENTH SHOW JAM (599239) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744269)

There goes my study. An oblong desk with a stool in front of it and a wall mounted monitor.

For the record, the desk is cluttered with motorbike magazines and raspberry pi peripherals.

Un.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744177)

..fucking-believable.

Captcha is 'Circus' - quite appropriate for how I feel about the US patent system.

What in the fuck? (1, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744183)

The bowing to the excesses and insanity of capitalism has reached bizarre extremes. This is how little kids act. "Mommy! Jimmy is COPYING me! Make him stop!"

Re:What in the fuck? (1)

Lawrence61 (868933) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744215)

look at samsung phones, they copied the iphone, microsoft didnt, and thats why microsoft only has 2% marketshare... heh heh...

Re:What in the fuck? (2, Informative)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744283)

Apple copied every other fucking phone maker before that enough with apple fan boy propaganda. The Design is NOT new.

Re:What in the fuck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744469)

Show me proof...Before the iPhone there was no full screen touch screen that worked as fluid as the iPhone and no full web browser. Android was busy copying Blackberry then when the iPhone came out Blackberry accused Apple of lying and saying no way could a phone have that much battery life, etc and Android seen the benefits and turned their direction and copied the iOS and its manufacturers copied the iPhone hardware.

Re:What in the fuck? (4, Insightful)

hduff (570443) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744225)

The bowing to the excesses and insanity of capitalism has reached bizarre extremes. This is how little kids act. "Mommy! Jimmy is COPYING me! Make him PAY!"

FTFY

Re:What in the fuck? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744513)

I guess, for these companies, a sales ban is worse than a fine.

Re:What in the fuck? (1)

mister2au (1707664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744313)

So somebody should be able to set up an exact replica of an Apple store?

Previously there was nothing stopping resellers from doing exactly that, slapping Apple logos all over the place and dressing staff in apple branded clothes.

You can understand why Apple do not want people tricked into fake Apple stores but unfortunately trademark is just about the only way of protecting against this.

Re:What in the fuck? (2, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744407)

So somebody should be able to set up an exact replica of an Apple store?

In terms of store layout and design, of course. Naturally. Any other questions?

slapping Apple logos all over the place

Are you daft? That would be outright fraud on the face of it. Even making the sign on the front of the store say "Apple" would be obvious fraud. You don't need trademarks on the GODDAM LAYOUT AND DESIGN OF A STORE to protect against that kind of thing.

Re:What in the fuck? (1)

mister2au (1707664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744507)

Are you daft?

No ... and I can be polite and courteous in a discussion

Re:What in the fuck? (2)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744731)

Seriously? You think that their store layout is somehow unique? Except that there are iToys on the tables instead of painted miniatures and dungeon layouts, and the posters on the wall are made with LCD screens instead of paper this is the exact same layout as the game shop down the hill from my house. Well, except that the Apple store doesn't have a carpet full of Doritos crumbs and spilled Mountain Dew.

Re:What in the fuck? (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744811)

"trademark is just about the only way of protecting against this."

So true.

I would also like to point out that copyright protection for Taxi Driver (until the year 2120 or so) is about the only way to protect against people signing Martin Scorsese's name to checks.

Re:What in the fuck? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744383)

Duh! We live in a world of "fuck-you,-I-got-mine". Did you honestly think the thugs you and I elect to office were going to help citizens who have no power and money. Damn, you are all so naive!!!

Re:What in the fuck? (1)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744445)

I guess we don't just all passively accept it being rammed down our throats, as the tone of your post suggests we should. You're either part of the resistance or part of the problem.

OK (0)

olip85 (1770514) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744203)

This is getting ridiculous....

What's next? (1)

jdkc4d (659944) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744223)

I guess at this time next week every bar/pub will be getting a cease and desist letter.

Re:What's next? (2)

Spectre (1685) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744331)

Unless those bar/pub's are retailing computers/tablets/phones (who knows, maybe they are), they are not in the same "trade" as an Apple store and would not be affected.

Trademarks are specific to a single trade.

Servicemarks are broader, but also much more difficult to acquire.

Inaccurate Summary (5, Insightful)

Grond (15515) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744229)

In this case the trademark is defined by the illustration, which is basically a line drawing of an Apple Store minus the logo. The text in the summary is drawn from the "description of mark" field, which is just a description of the image and does not define the trademark. Further, the summary suggests that Apple is individually claiming trademark protection on various features of its store design ('clear glass storefront...' or an 'oblong table with stools...'). This is not the case. The trademark claims the entire design as a whole.

Re:Inaccurate Summary (1)

johnjones (14274) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744295)

that may be true but can you explain to me how this windows store would not infringe

pricture of a windows store [flickr.com]

regards

John Jones

Re:Inaccurate Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744417)

I can't see any oblong tables along the wall...

Re:Inaccurate Summary (2)

julesh (229690) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744447)

that may be true but can you explain to me how this windows store would not infringe

pricture of a windows store [flickr.com]

regards

John Jones

From the textual description of the mark:

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

The picture you link to shows a store whose storefront has the horizontal panel but AFAICT is lacking the narrower side panels described. Also, without being able to see inside the store, it is impossible to tell if the arrangement of lighting, tables, seating, shelves and video panels all conform to the description provided. It is quite likely that they do not, as Apple's description is very specific in certain details. Note that all of the details would need to match for the store to be considered infringing.

Re:Inaccurate Summary (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744763)

There are an Apple and a MS store in the same mall near me. They look 90 percent identical, mostly because what they're selling is 90 percent the same. Friendlier staff in the MS store, though.

Re:Inaccurate Summary (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744703)

This photo was taken on July 29, 2012 in Wenonah, Minneapolis, MN, US, using an Apple iPhone 4.

I guess even then Apple was directionally impaired. That's the bloody Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. And, I must say, when I saw that Microsoft was adding that store right next to Apple's I found myself laughing to tears. It made my night. Even now I get a snicker out of it when ever I walk by.

Re:Inaccurate Summary (4, Informative)

almitydave (2452422) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744337)

Indeed, FTFTM:

Description of 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.

Acquired Distinctiveness Claim: In whole

This is presumably an attempt to deter/combat the copycats that have actually tried to trick people into thinking they're Apple stores.

ahh I was wondering (1, Funny)

Jaktar (975138) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744241)

I was wondering where the next "innovation" would take place. I suppose the next "innovation" in their store will be that it is 10% smaller and allows voice commands.

Everyone will complain... (1)

drcagn (715012) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744243)

Everyone will complain, but if I asked you to name one consumer tech company that does things most differently than any other, you'd say Apple. Why should Apple not enjoy the protection of these differences--which clearly make them very successful? I don't have a solution in particular here, but it's hard to claim that Apple has nothing to pursue here.

windows stores... (1, Interesting)

johnjones (14274) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744259)

look exactly the same...

so thats going to be fun for them !

picture of a windows store next to apple store [flickr.com]

regards

John Jones

Re:windows stores... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744575)

You have pointed out the fact that is one of the most important, but that the fewest people will care about.

Microsoft and Apple can afford to go to war with each other legally, throwing dozens of lawyers at each other over several years, but any Mom and Pop or Small Business would be bankrupt within days of trying to fight this legal battle.

Trying to run an honest business is good and all, but you're boned once the great and powerful (read: I own a team of lawyers) come after you.

Sucks, but that's the US of A for you: profits are made in court, not elsewhere.

Sorry to break up the Apple hate (4, Informative)

Trolan (42526) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744277)

But Microsoft trademarked their store design too, and had it granted in 2011. This looks much like return fire, and not an opening shot.

http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=85194406&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch [uspto.gov]

Re:Sorry to break up the Apple hate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744595)

With the slight difference that noone would want to copy Microsofts store design (way to many flying chairs...)

Re:Sorry to break up the Apple hate (2)

Paul Slocum (598127) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744755)

Actually, the trademarking of the Windows store was just a follow up to the Linux store's trademarking in 2009:

http://linuxman.blogsome.com/images/linuxstore.png [blogsome.com]

What's the first thing that comes to mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744297)

when you see this?
http://images.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=samsung+store

I'm pretty sure you're not thinking Microsoft Store.

The USPTO does not "approve" trademarks. (4, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744299)

Nor does it "grant" them. It registers them. They are created by use.

Re:The USPTO does not "approve" trademarks. (3, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744339)

Your post goes over most of their heads. Many don't even know the difference between a patent and trademark.

Don't worry it might not last too long (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744343)

The last time I walked by an Apple store the ratio of BlueShirts:Customers was roughly 1:1 but was still a crowded store. One blue shirt. One customer. It reminded me of Circuit City.

Falling stock price, charismatic founder gone, too many employees bothering people when you come in. Oh, it won't go away overnight. It's too big. It's not cool any more though. You know why there's no iTV? Because when they finally release a TV the snobs will be shocked into reality: we can't line up to by a TV. TV is for idiots.

There's no place left for Apple to go. It's just a boring dividend stock. It's Fossil watches, Coach bags, etc; except for technology. Once again, not going out of business anytime soon... just not going like gangbusters. Maybe it'll go belly-up in 10 years if they get really stupid and go all JC Penny with a management change, but it'll take one heck of a suit-wearing idiot and a hard recession to kill this beast.

Bad summary (1)

julesh (229690) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744371)

The summary makes this sound much worse than it actually is. To be infringing, a store would have to:

1. Have the same arrangement of windows (not just the single large panel mentioned in the summary, but also the smaller side panels), *and*
2. Have cantilevered shelves, *and*
3. Have multiple rectangular tables, *and*
4. Have flush-mounted video screens on the rear wall.

It's possible a court *might* hold that something hitting 3 out of 4 of these was confusingly similar, but by no means certain. Courts aren't stupid.

Re:Bad summary (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744709)

So, would have to be a pretty common layout for stores. While it is true that this layout is more common in clothing stores, it isn't exactly rare or new for stores that sell electronic goods.

Just to clarify: Service Mark (4, Informative)

Jim Hall (2985) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744385)

The summary gives the impression this is a patent, but the /. article title says trademark. Actually, according to the linked USPTO file [uspto.gov] , it's a service mark.

I had once considered applying for a registered trademark for the FreeDOS Project, [freedos.org] just to protect the name. To be clear, a registered trademark is R not TM. But the Apple file is a service mark, or SM. To simplify, a SM is basically the same as a TM, but the understanding is a SM will be for a short term use, for various definitions of "short term" (usually a SM is applied to an advertising slogan, like Walmart's "Save money. Live better.")

First of all, to apply for either mark in the US, you need to pay a fee to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). But even if you file, there is the issue of diligence. If there's a violation (someone uses that trademark or service mark without permission) the mark holder fails to prosecute or take action, the mark can be found in a court to be unprotected and open for use. There are other ways to lose a mark as well.

However, it is not necessary to register a mark with the USPTO in order to claim it as a trademark or service mark. The USPTO says any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the "TM" (trademark) or "SM" (service mark) designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO.

Owning a mark registration on the Principal Register does give you several things:

  • constructive notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the mark;
  • a legal presumption of the registrant's ownership of the mark and the registrant's exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration;
  • the ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;
  • the use of the U.S registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries; and
  • the ability to file the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.

So really what Apple is doing here is registering the layout and design of their store as a service mark (an identity) so that if someone else comes along and uses the same layout and design, Apple can make a stronger case to sue them. The legal theory is that you could have looked up the service mark to see if someone else was using it so it's harder to defend yourself if you are found to be infringing. Not impossible to defend, just harder.

Companies do this kind of thing all the time. It just doesn't usually hit the news. Coke has a registered mark on the shape their bottle, for example.

This isn't an Apple patent, it's not an abuse of the patent system. It's just a service mark.

Tradmarks are really stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744413)

I think I will trademark my ass, and then sue all the corporations for trying to screw it.

When you buy Apple products you support this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744437)

See subject.

Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744439)

This is getting f****ing ridiculous, is there no prior art with trademarks? Almost every store I have ever patronized in the last forty years has had a clear glass storefront surrounded by a facade. Those extreme yogurt places that have been popping up everywhere over the last several years all have tables and chairs set below overhead video displays.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744535)

Those extreme yogurt places [...]

Different field. Has nothing to do with computers.

If you don't like it then lobby your legislators (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744541)

n/t.

PS: Stop your bitching.

Thanks,
AAPL shareholder.

Or - better yet - boycott Apple (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744765)

Apple deserves to be boycotted for a dozen reasons, at least.

I stopped buying Apple years ago, couldn't be happier about my decision.

Now that Android has caught up with iOS, and you can get a $250 Chromebook, who needs Apple?

This is common (1)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744543)

practice in the restaurant industry. Lots of times you can tell exactly what fast food place they are building just by the shape. MS would just need to change one or two cosmetic things to not violate if they do already anyway. Not much to see here.

Not the same thing at all (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744791)

I can see golden arches being a trademark, but not a glass storefront.

Name me a restaurant that has trademarked something like a glass storefront? And tell me how common that is.

Trademarks not constitutionally enabled per se (1)

fnj (64210) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744753)

In the US, patents and copyrights are clearly enabled constitutionally by the "copyright clause" - article 1, section 8, clause 8, which in its entirety states:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

Trademarks are not so enabled per se. Lawmakers saw an open door in the "commerce clause" - article 1, section 8, clause 3, which in its entirety states:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

It's pretty intellectually clear to many of us that the clause was not intended as an excuse for the staggering load of crap hustled into federal law under its supposed umbrella. There is absolutely nothing there which suggests that trademarks are the valid concern of the federal government, in the same way that clause 8 clearly supports patents and copyrights.

But time marches on. An argument can be made that 50 separate states with a forest of 50 different policies on trademarks (and the other stuff questionably justified under the commerce clause) would not be a good thing. I don't make that argument, but I recognize that it has merit.

Be that as it may, the trademark system is subject to legislative tuning in the same way as the patent system and the copyright system. Even if one accepts that trade names and product names should be subject to trademark protection, there is no reason to fall into the absurd black hole of allowing STORE DESIGN AND LAYOUT, and god knows what else, to be subject to trademark. This should be reformed legislatively, the same way the choking absurdity of software patents and ornamental design patents (not technical design patents), and today's almost eternal duration of copyrights, should be reformed legislatively.

Obviously, letting some Authority or Bureau or Commission, answerable to no one, and in the thrall of special interests, weave a repressive forest of regulation does not cut it.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744781)

Wow, they really have run out of ideas as this point.

So Funny (1)

powerspike (729889) | about a year and a half ago | (#42744803)

Hope they don't try to enforce this here in Australia.

The Setup of the Apple store is the general way mobile phone stores have been setup here for several years. Colors and textures might be different - however the layout and form (of the tables / displays) of the stores are pretty much identical.

I am still amazed some of the patents are handed out in the USA.

Apple Just patented (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42744807)

- The Bar
- The Coffee Shop
- The Fast Food Restraunt

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