European trademark protection allowed for Apple store layout

The European Court of Justice has decided that Apple’s retail store layout can be protected as a trademark in Europe. Apple was granted trademark protection for its store layout – a 3D image – in the US in January 2013, but when the company applied for similar protection in Europe, the application was rejected by the German Patent and Trademark Office, who argued that this was not valid under EU law.

Apple appealed and the issue was referred to the European Court of Justice, who said that Apple stores do meet the three criteria for a trademark – they constitute a sign, they can be represented in a graphic, and they can distinguish the goods or services sold by one company from those of another.