Trademark protection for Apple store layout

  Apple has been trying to protect the look and feel of her store in Europe as a trademark for a couple of years now. Apple stores, due to their unique design and use of glass panels, brown square tables, a glass stair case and built in lighting, have a distinct look. Research proved that consumers in the United States recognized the interior of an Apple store immediately as such. Even if the logo is not on the wall. With this research in hand Apple succeeded in obtaining a trademark registration for her store layout in the United States.  

Based on this registration protection was sought in several countries in Europe. In Poland and Italy the trademark was directly accepted, but in the Benelux and Germany it encountered problems. The German authorities inquire with the European Court whether a store lay out may or may not be protected as a trademark. The Court gave a very clear answer to this question this summer: Yes. The layout should be distinctive, though. The consumer must immediately be able to recognize who the goods offered in the store are from. The extent in which the layout differs from what is common will determine the ease with which it may obtain a registration. This ruling may have some positive consequences for stores such as supermarkets.


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MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?
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