Tags: apple | store | patents | look

Fake Apple Stores in China Drive Tech Giant to Patent its 'Look'

Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013 01:22 PM

By Dale Eisinger

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Apple is in the process of addressing an ongoing issue in China: counterfeit stores.

Employers in the Asian country have gone to great lengths to ensure that the unlicensed stores met the same standards as the real ones. In July 2011, Chinese officials ordered at least two fake Apple stores to close. Five were found in the city of Kunming, according to Reuters and Wall Street Journal reports.
(http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/25/us-apple-china-fake-idUSTRE76O0M720110725) (http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2011/07/21/china-fake-apple-store-clerk-speaks-out/)

An employee at one of the fake stores in China The Journal spoke with said products in the store are genuine and sold at the same prices as those advertised on Apple’s website. The employee said he did not care whether the store he worked for was counterfeit, as long as he was selling real products.

On Tuesday, Apple took action against the fake stores, filing official trademark documents with the U.S. patent office. In documents posted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, the California tech giant took steps to ensure it’s the stores' distinctive look and feel couldn't be replicated.

The patent documents outline the signature stores' setup.

"[The]store features a clear glass storefront surrounded by a paneled facade consisting of large, rectangular horizontal panels over the top of the glass front, and two narrower panels stacked on either side of the storefront," according to the documents.

The specifications get even more detailed.

"Within the store, rectangular recessed lighting units traverse the length of the store's ceiling. There are cantilevered shelves below recessed display spaces along the side walls, and rectangular tables arranged in a line in the middle of the store parallel to the walls and extending from the storefront to the back of the store."

If a store arranges items on shelves in a particular way, this could be a violation of trademark.

"There is multi-tiered shelving along the side walls, and an oblong table with stools located at the back of the store, set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall," the documents say. "The walls, floors, lighting, and other fixtures appear in dotted lines and are not claimed as individual features of the mark; however, the placement of the various items are considered to be part of the overall mark."

Official Apple resellers, labeled as “Apple Shops” on the company’s website, are granted authorized status after going through an application process for certification to sell or provide specific Apple products and technical support services, according to The Journal.

Apple also announced Tuesday the release of a 128 gigabyte, $799 iPad.

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