London (May 8, 2006)–Apple Computer’s latest legal go-round with Apple Corps, has ended–for now–with a victory. Apple Corps, which represents the Beatles’ various trademarks and legal concerns, recently 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. With iTunes selling an estimated 21 million songs a month–and now an estimated 1 million videos a month due to its recent addition of TV programs, rock videos and other visual material–Apple Corps felt the service violated the 15-year-old terms, conceived long before internet media delivery became an everyday occurrence.
In his judgement, Justice Mann stated, “I find no breach of the trademark agreement has been demonstrated. The action therefore fails.” The Beatles will appeal the decision; in the meantime, the group has been remastering its catalog for eventual online sales, though whether the classic songs will wind up for purchase on iTunes seems highly unlikely.
The judgement is available for download at: www.thinksecret.com/archives/Apple-Apple-Judgment.pdf