The Court of Justice of the European Communities has deemed that Apple's store design in its European flagship stores can be registered as a brand, something Apple had already done in the United States.
Question from German court
Apple also wanted to register its store design as a brand in Europe, but German courts reacted negatively to Apple's request in 2013, a decision Apple appealed. The German Bundespatentgericht (patent office) decided to ask the Court of Justice of the European Communities to judge and it has now confirmed that a store design, without any size specification, can be registered as a brand.
There were a few requirements before such a thing can be done: the design has to distinguishable from that of other enterprises. Apple's flagship stores focus on the typically wooden tables and the large windows in the front.
"Boost for all designers"
"This is a boost for Apple, but mainly for every creative designer of the so-called flagship stores", Geert Glas, head of intellectual property law at the Allen & Overy law firm. "Store design can be registered and protected as a brand if they manage to create something distinct."
"European judges have now brought law in line with a surging marketing trend. Companies used to focus their efforts on names and logo's to entice consumers, but today's marketeers have a wider range of possibilities to distinguish themselves. Shapes, ringtones, colour combinations and even store designs can make the customer feel at home and that is what brands are about."