In China patents come in increasingly surprising forms.
Apple has recently secured Chinese patents on “some of the distinctive elements of its store designs”, including a glass dome. This rather unusual approach to intellectual protection derives in part from the recent discovery of fake Apple stores throughout the country – the one in Kunming looked so real that even the staff thought they were working for Apple.
It is of course quite far away from the more high-tech image that one can have from patenting activity. At the end of the day the technology component of a brand is often quite low.