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Apple trademarks design of its retail stores

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Apple has secured protection for the design of its Apple Stores, after a number of fake stores were discovered in China last year.

Last week, the US Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple's request to trademark the minimalist layout of its stores.

Staff help customers activate their new iPhone 3GS at an Apple store in London, Friday, June 19, 2009, as Apple launched the sale of the new iPhone in Britain

© PA Images / Akira Suemori/AP



According to Reuters, the patent covers "a clear glass storefront surrounded by a panelled facade", and an interior featuring an "oblong table with stools... set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall".

Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder, took a keen interest in the design of Apple Stores.

A separate patent that Apple secured in 2003, on the floating glass staircase in stores, listed Jobs himself as the inventor.

Apple submitted an application for wider trademark protection for the store design in May 2010, and it was granted on January 22, 2013, according to US government records.

A security guard stands next to an area expected for customers to queue up at the Apple store in Hong Kong

© PA Images / Vincent Yu/AP



Such need for greater protection became even more pressing last year after a blogger uncovered a fake Apple Store operating in Kunming, China.

The outlet had the same big glass windows with Apple logos, along with wooden tables and staff wearing matching T-shirts and lanyards.

Such was the believability of the store that some of the workers were even under the impression that they were working for Apple.

After it was exposed, Chinese authorities moved quickly to shut down the fake store, and also closed down more than 20 others that were selling Apple products without proper authorisation.

As of August 2012, Apple had 395 official stores worldwide, including around 250 in the US.

Reuters said that Apple's store design patent does not extend beyond the US, but companies that file for domestic protection often simultaneously go for similar protection in the countries where they operate.

Apple declined to comment on the trademark approval.

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