BRUSSELS -- The European Union's highest court says Apple's characteristic retail store layout may be registered as a trademark.
The Court of Justice on Thursday overturned a decision by German patent authorities which last year rejected an application to grant copyright protection to Apple's store design -- parallel lines of big tables with electronic gadgets spread out on them under a high ceiling.
The Luxembourg-based EU Court said a design pattern like Apple's "may constitute a trademark provided that it is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking" from others.
The case will go back for a final decision to Germany's highest patent court which had sought the EU judges' advice.
Apple Inc. successfully registered its store layout as a trademark in the United States in 2010.