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Apple Computer wins Beatles trademark dispute

Apple Computer wins Beatles trademark dispute

Apple Computer has prevailed in the latest trademark dispute with The Beatle's music label Apple Corps.

High Court judge Edward Mann delivered his verdict at 10.30am Monday morning, London time, ruling against Apple Corps' claim that Apple Computer had broken a 1991 agreement forbidding the computer company from using its trademark in connection with music.

Apple Corps took particular issue with the use of the Apple logo in association with the iTunes Music Store and wanted to win an injunction to prevent this. It claimed that certain aspects of the iTunes Music Store revealed Apple Computer to be acting like a record label. For example, Apple Corps was angry about the marketing of tracks exclusive to the music store; “Live from London” recordings; featured artist playlists; iTunes Essentials compilations; and the fact that independent artists can sign up to sell their music via the store.

Apple Computer maintained that it was selling other people's music, not acting as a record label. The case rested on a sub clause in the 1991 agreement that stated that Apple Computer could use its logo in conjunction with data transmission services. The assumption is that the iTunes Music Store fits into this category.

Reasonable and fair

Justice Mann agreed with Apple Computer, ruling that the association between the logo use and the download service is a "proper one", and that the logo was clearly used in relation to the service, not to the music.

"The primary reason there is no breach [of the 1991 deal] is because the use of the logo is still a permitted use as described in clause 4.3 of the 1991 agreement," the judge declared.

The judge also said Apple Computer's use of the logo in association with its music store products "does not go beyond what is reasonable and fair". He also indicated that: "There would have been little point in keeping that association secret."

Apple CEO Steve Jobs reacted to the ruling, saying: "We are glad to put this disagreement behind us. We have always loved the Beatles, and hopefully we can now work together to get them on the iTunes Music Store."

Apple Computer is demanding at least £1.5 million (NZ$4.43 million) from Apple Corps to cover legal fees.

Apple Corps has issued a statement, confirming its plans to appeal against the decision. The judge has given Apple Corp leave to appeal the decision and until a decision has been reached will not be required to pay any money to Apple Computers.


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