Apple Computer to contest Beatles’ U.K. lawsuit in court today

“Apple Computer Inc. will return to London’s High Court today to contest the latest lawsuit brought by a company owned by the Beatles over the personal-computer maker’s use of the Apple trademark,” Bloomberg reports.

“Apple Corps Ltd., owned by the four Beatles or their families, says the Californian company’s iTunes online music store breaches a 1991 agreement forbidding the computer maker from using the trademark for any works ‘whose principal content is music and, or performances.’ Apple Computer would retain the logo for its ‘core business,’ court documents said,” Bloomberg reports.

“‘Providing both businesses stay within their particular areas, then trademark law allows them to coexist,” said John Linneker, a partner in intellectual property at London law firm Taylor Wessing. ‘It’s when computers meet the music industry that the trademark conflict blows up,’ Bloomberg reports. “The iTunes product allows people to download songs from the Web for 99 cents each and transfer them to Apple Computer’s iPod music players. Chief Executive Steve Jobs is betting on digital music devices to help drive sales as the company’s share of the computer market wanes.”

Bloomberg reports., “The Beatles’ lawyers will argue in a two to three day hearing that the case should be heard in London. The computer maker’s lawyers contest this and have asked a Californian judge for the case to proceed in San Jose.”

“The two companies’ original agreement on the Apple trademark, signed in 1981, allowed the Californian company to use the name only for the sale of computers. Apple Computer later used the logo for computers to edit and record music, prompting the Beatles’ company to file a lawsuit in 1989. The companies settled their dispute in 1991 and signed a new agreement after a trial lasting more than 100 days at the High Court,” Bloomberg reports. “That contract stipulated Apple Computer could use the logo for computers, data processing and telecommunications, while the Beatles could retain it for music, according to documents filed by the pop group’s lawyers at the High Court.”

Full article here.


  1. Where on the iTunes Music Store is the Apple logo used to sell music? Apple doesn’t produce any music that I know of. I think the Beatles need to chill out and offer their music catalog on the iTMS and maybe they’de get more money, without Lawyers fees! It would make sense, wouldn’t it?


  2. I can say with hesitation that I am a “Beatle-maniac” but this is nothing more than a money grab from Ringo, Paul and the widows. If they were really worried about the Apple Records label being misused then Paul should never have sold the entire Beatles catalog to anyone, and specifically not Michael Jackson.

  3. I don’t even associate Apple Corps with the Beatles. The Beatles are just…. The Beatles. I know they probably are due something since they seemed to have semi-won the previous suit but I wish they would just chill out too.

  4. The iTunes Music Store was originally called The Apple Music Store. There was even a URL for it. After the lawsuit was filed it was changed to iTMS. This has to do with the use of the Apple logo in regards to music. I don’t believe it will have any effect on iTMS. It could be that Apple would need to remove any visual use of an apple… or perhaps they’d would have to “spin off” the business under another name. In any event this will be a long drawn- out process and the court will probably ask the parties to settle.

  5. bob670, just for the record, Paul did not sellthe catalog to Michael. Michael snaked it from Paul in a bidding war. Paul mentioned to Michael he was going to buy the catalog and Michael outbid him for it. This was during the Thriller time period. Michael and Paul WERE friends til that point.

  6. i thought the beatles were dead?!?!?!?! either way they should be. they sucked big monkey balls anyway. apple has never used the logo to sell music or really to sel anything. they have always relied on quality products and great performance to sell their products.

  7. “That contract stipulated Apple Computer could use the logo for computers, data processing and telecommunications, while the Beatles could retain it for music, according to documents filed by the pop group’s lawyers at the High Court.”

    To reproduce music in a digital device (CD player, iPod, Mac, PC) you NEED a data processing mechanism. Apple Computer is allowed to process digital data, so… paradox.

  8. does anyone know whether Apple Records produces music anymore? I mean, besides managing the current Beatles catalog (and a couple of bands they signed back in the 70’s)–has there been any NEW material coming out of Apple Records in VERY long time? To my knowledge, they’ve been pretty stagnant in that regard..

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