Posted on January 30, 2013 8:30 AM by Rob Williams
When companies design something that ends up becoming “iconic”, it’s inevitable that it’ll be imitated. But sometimes, imitation isn’t the sincerest form of flattery – especially where business is concerned. Case in point: Apple, which has just trademarked its easily-recognizable Apple Store storefronts. Didn’t know you could do that? Apparently, you can.
Trademarks are dissimilar to patents in that violation would be the result of the “likelihood of confusion” rather than simply copying how something is done. If an HP store were to creep up, for example, and feature a glass storefront, neatly-lined product demo tables and an extension of those on the side along with recessed ceiling lights and a similar color scheme – aka: the entire package – then it could be held as a violation of the trademark.
While a trademark for a store seems (and is) a bit silly, it’s unlikely that any company would be accused of a violation unless they were blatantly copying many of the design elements of Apple’s stores. Given how recognizable Apple Stores are, it seems unlikely that any architect would create a strikingly similar design by “accident”.
Had Apple patented the individual design elements, things would not be so kosher.