Apple Inc. (AAPL) may be able to seek a German trademark that would stop retailers mimicking the layout of its flagship stores, the European Union’s top court said.
Apple can try to register an image of its store layout if it can show that it can distinguish its goods from others, the EU Court of Justice said. Apple is challenging a refusal by the German patent office to accept the picture as a trademark. A national court will decide the final details of the appeal.
The Cupertino, California-based maker of iPads and iPhones got a U.S. three-dimensional trademark for the design of its stores in January, according to the Los Angeles Times. The U.S. trademark covers the look of the store’s furniture, fixture, lighting and shelves as well as the “Genius Bar” for customers to get help with Apple products.
“The court seems to embrace a modern view on how trademarks function today,” said Geert Glas, the head of the international intellectual property group at Allen & Overy LLP in Brussels. “It’s not just a name or a logo but much more.”
Apple has waged a series of legal battles against what it says are lookalike Apple products. It has sued Samsung Electronics Co. in courts around the world for “slavishly copying” its devices, even as Asia’s biggest electronics maker provides parts for Apple products.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs vowed before his death in 2011 to wage “thermonuclear war” to prove that Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones, run on Google Inc.’s Android operating system, copy the iPhone.
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