Apple, the world’s most valuable brand, has secured one patent that is highly unlikely to result in a legal battle with Samsung. The Cupertino tech giant has been awarded an architectural patent for the cylindrical glass entryway that beckons shoppers into its Shanghai retail location.
“Apple's patent not only covers the design of the cylinder, but more specifically the type of glass and construction methods used to erect such a structure,” says Apple Insider. “Like the flagship Fifth Avenue Apple Store in New York, the Shanghai cylinder is made almost entirely out of huge monolithic glass slabs, with only connecting joints fashioned out of metal. The Chinese build is more complex, however, as the specifications required the glass pieces be curved to form arcs. These panels were then joined to create a circle and ultimately a cylinder.”
The patent was co-filed in Germany, Great Britain, and China as well.
The cylinder houses a spiral staircase that descends into the sales floor, so it also had to be strong enough to sustain the heavy foot traffic that Apple Stores generally receive. To achieve the required strength, glass beams were inserted that extend from an inner circle to the structure’s outer edges. Glass fins then connect adjacent panels to each other.
The process is more complicated than it seems, as explained by Mashable: “A special laminating process is required to clamp the metal joints to the rest of the pane, ensuring stability as people move across it all day. Also consider the curve of each panel of glass – not an easy feat to accomplish on such a large scale.”
Apple’s attention to detail clearly extends beyond the company’s ubiquitous gadgets. The Apple Stores themselves are considered by many to be wonders of design. The brushed aluminum entrance panels, wooden tables, glass staircases, and minimalistic window displays are all painstakingly deliberate – and also patented.
The Apple Store in Shanghai, which opened in 2010, was the second to be built in China. Beijing was home to China’s first Apple Store, which opened just ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.