By Clive Young
New York (February 5, 2007)--After years of legal skirmishes, the Beatles’s company, Apple Corps, and Apple, Inc. (formerly Apple Computer) have resolved their differences, perhaps for good. The two entities have entered an agreement where Apple Inc. will own all trademarks related to “Apple” and will license certain trademarks back to Apple Corps.
"We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks," said Apple chief executive Steve Jobs in a statement. "It feels great to resolve this in a positive manner, and in a way that should remove the potential of further disagreements in the future."
"It is great to put this dispute behind us and move on," said Neil Aspinall, manager of Apple Corps, in the statement. "The years ahead are going to be very exciting times for us. We wish Apple Inc. every success and look forward to many years of peaceful co-operation with them."
The agreement follows Apple Corps’ loss last spring when it sued the high-profile iPod manufacturer, saying that it had violated a 1991 trademark agreement between the two companies that Apple Computer would not enter the music business. As the Beatles' company saw it, the creation of the popular iTunes Music Store was a violation of that agreement. A judge in London's High Court, however, thought differently.??
Apple Computer insisted in court that the trademark had not been infringed upon, now famously arguing that "even a moron in a hurry" could discern the difference between the two companies and their logos. The manufacturer further defended itself stating that iTunes is essentially a data transmission service--a feature that was permitted by the 1991 agreement.??
The 1991 legal agreement was the result of an out-of-court settlement, where the manufacturer paid $26 million to the Beatles and the two companies mapped out different markets that each would have exclusivity in, so as not to confuse potential customers or inadvertently steal each other's business. Apple Corps felt the iTunes service, founded in 2003, violated the 1991 terms, conceived long before internet media delivery became an everyday occurrence. Following the loss, Apple Corps was ordered to pay Apple's legal bill, estimated at £2 million.
The announcement of the agreement has lent further creedence to industry rumors that The Beatles’ catalog will finally be made available online for the first time via iTunes on Valentine’s Day, with a three-month exclusivity on the band’s recent mash-up album, Love.
By Clive Young