A top European Union court has allowed US technology firm Apple to trademark the spatial layout of its European stores. The court's ruling reverses an earlier decision by German patent authorities.
The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled on Thursday that Apple could in principle trademark the layout of its stores across the European Union.
The top EU court had been asked to provide advice in the matter after US-based Apple appealed a decision by the German Patent Office not to award the firm a three-dimensional trademark for the design of its flagship stores.
The judges in Luxembourg ruled that an image showing a store layout in the form of "an integral collection of lines, curves and shapes" could be trademarked.
But the court also set conditions. Among other things, it pointed to a requirement saying that the goods and services offered in such stores must be absolutely distinguishable from those of other, competing businesses.
Apple opened its first store in the US back in 2001. It took three more years before the company inaugurated its first European store in London in 2004.
According to Apple's website, the consumer electronics giant now has 37 retail stores in the UK, 17 in France, 13 in Germany, 14 in Italy, 11 in Spain, three in Sweden and two in the Netherlands.
hg/nz (dpa, AFP)