Apple victory after EU top court says store designs may be registered as trademarks

European Court of Justice argues a store can be a trademark if 'the layout departs significantly' from competitors

Apple has won a crucial step in securing trademark protection for the layout of its stores in Europe after the EU’s top court argued in favour of the tech giant.

The iPhone maker had sought to extend a trade mark registered in the United States to Germany for its minimalist, all-white flagship Apple stores, including its interior design and layout.

The move was initially turned down, but it appears Apple may end up winning this battle and Europe's top court argued the design of the store could win trade mark protection in Europe.

Answering a question from the German Federal Patents Court, which opposed the request, the European Court of Justice argued that the interior design of a store can be a trademark if "the layout departs significantly from the norm or customs of the economic sector concerned".

It also said the "representation of the layout of the retail store, by design alone, without indicated the size or the proportions”, may also be registered as a trade mark for services. However, the court added that this had to be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the relevant authority.

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