Beatles Lose UK Trademark Suit Against Apple; Will Appeal


Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) Corps, the label founded by the Beatles, lost a trademark case against Apple Computers, which successfully argued before a British court that it had stayed true to the letter of an agreement governing trademark use with music. Justice Anthony Mann ruled that the computer company only used the “Apple” logo to sell music through iTunes, not to create music.
Part of Mann’s opinion via the BBC:”I conclude that the use of the apple logo … does not suggest a relevant connection with the creative work. … I think that the use of the apple logo is a fair and reasonable use of the mark in connection with the service, which does not go further and unfairly or unreasonably suggest an additional association with the creative works themselves.” Apple Corps will be charged for Apple Computers’ legal bills, already estimated around 2 million pounds.
Apple Corps, owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and heirs of George Harrison and John Lennon, will appeal, according to manager Neil Aspinall. Apple Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs responded as though it’s a done deal, suggesting that “hopefully we can now work together to get them on the iTunes Music Store.”
Aspinall said during the proceedings that Apple Corps was planning to offer Beatles’ songs digitally. While the label probably could do well however it choose to distribute its music, it’s hard to see how it could maximize the potential without a plan that includes dominant download service iTunes.
AP: Just how much the decision matters beyond the two Apples is up for discussion. Jonathan Riley, an intellectual property lawyer with London firm Lawrence Graham: “It was watched with interest, but also some distance, because I don’t think it’s hugely significant for either the computer industry or the music industry.”

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