Apple's been on a tear to protect the look of its retail experiences, trademarking the design of its stores and patenting its proprietary see-through staircases. Now its glass cube flagship store in Manhattan is officially a patented design in the US, with "Steve P. Jobs" listed as one of the inventors.
The patent for the transparent Fifth Avenue store was filed all the way back in 2012 but was finally granted this week. Although links in the patent reference Apple's revolutionary glass technology, which allows them to manufacture some of the largest and strongest slabs of glass on the planet, the language itself presents the claim as "the ornamental design for a building as shown and described." So what Apple is patenting here is actually the distinctive design of the building itself. This is not the same thing as a trademark, by the way, which Apple applied for in regards to the same building in 2010 and has not yet received.
Apple actually submitted two store designs for patent consideration in 2012, one of which was patented right away: the crystal-clear cylinder of their Shanghai store. Why that one was granted immediately but the cube had to wait all this time is a bit puzzling. Perhaps a glass cube is not as distinctive, architecturally? Or flat glass walls are not as technologically impressive as ones that curve? Remember, though, that the Manhattan cube underwent a redesign in 2011 to make its glass even more seamless. Perhaps that's what sealed the deal. Either way, this should limit the ability of others to build giant glass cubes of their own, a crushing blow to shopping centres. [Patently Apple via 9to5Mac]