“This week the Apple Corps goes to the High Court seeking multimillion-pound damages against Apple Computer, the creators of the iPod, over their hugely successful iTunes Music Store,” Liz Chong reports for The Times. “Apple Corps, owned by the former Beatles and their heirs, still owns the licensing rights to Beatles’ products. It is claiming that the introduction of iTunes broke a $26 million settlement under which Apple Computer agreed to steer clear of the music business, for which the Beatles’ company retains the famous trademark. It is the latest clash in one of Britain’s longest-running corporate legal battles.”

“Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple Computer, founded his company in 1976 with a logo of a rainbow-coloured apple with a bite taken out of it. Apple Corps sued him five years later, accepting an $80,000 settlement and a promise that the computer company would stay out of the music business,” Chong reports. “The companies clashed again in 1989 after Apple Computer introduced a music-making program. The computer company settled in 1991, for $26 million. Apple Corps was awarded rights to the name on ‘creative works whose principal content is music’ while Apple Computer was allowed ‘goods and services . . . used to reproduce, run, play or otherwise deliver such content.'”

“Critically, however, the agreement prevented Apple Computer from distributing content on physical media. This was designed to cover CDs and tapes, but it is unclear whether it included later inventions such as digital music files or devices used to play them. Apple Computer will argue that its music service, which has sold more than a billion songs since 2002, is merely data transmission,” Chong reports. “The case is scheduled to begin on Wednesday at the High Court before Mr Justice Mann, a self-professed fan of music and computers. He is no stranger to the iPod, having inquired of both sides some time ago if he should disqualify himself from hearing the case because he owned one.”

Full article here.

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