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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week granted Apple a trademark for the unique design of the company's brick-and-mortar retail outlets, a process nearly two years in the making.
First applied for in May of 2010, Apple's newly minted trademark was awarded on Jan. 22 and covers the Apple Store's distinctive all-glass storefront and facade, recessed lighting, Genius Bar and rectangular tables, among other design cues.
The trademark goes into detail regarding the store's layout:
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.Apple Stores are known to offer a consistent experience that customers have come to enjoy, with stores in China being nearly identical to those in the U.S., save for minor tweaks necessitated by each location's dimensions. Apple's success has prompted other companies like Microsoft to mimic the open-space layout to mixed results.
As noted in Apple's quarterly earnings conference call for the first fiscal quarter of 2013, the company's retail segment generated an average revenue of $16.5 million with an average 396 stores open. In total, Apple Stores saw a record 121 million visitors over the three month period ending in December, compared to 110 million a year ago.