Apple has successfully been awarded a trademark for the “design and layout” of their retail stores. Since opening their first in Virginia over a decade ago, their stores have been at the heart of the companies branding; with the late Steve Jobs heavily involved in their design. Since, the growing presence of similar stores, including a familiar Microsoft chain launched in 2009, has left Apple feeling the need to protect its own distinctive style.
More after the break.
This move is not without precedent, as last year Apple secured their first architectural patent on the design of a once-off store in the Upper West Side of New York City. The new certificate, awarded last Thursday on January 24, covers Apple's more generic mall store design, protecting their original design in both black and white. As document mentions, the following was patented: "...the design of the store front, recessed lighting, shelving, flush video screens and even their unique genius bar layout at the rear of the store".
However, with the size and complexity of most architectural designs, questions are being asked about the where the line is drawn between close similarity and an outright copy.
Nevertheless, as with music and software, copyright and patent infringement could soon become an important aspect of architecture, with many ‘starchitects’ being highly sought after for their distinctive style. Notably Zaha Hadid is currently in a race to finish her Wangjing SOHO office block in Beijing, whilst pirates construct a copy-cat version in the eastern Chinese city of Chongqing.
via Patently Apple