Beatles vs. Apple Computer: outcome is far from a lock for Beatles

“For the third time since 1981, Apple faces a legal scrap with Apple Corps, the music- and copyright-management outfit originally formed by the Beatles,” Alex Salkever writes for BusinessWeek. The pending claim alleges that the iTunes online music store violates a previous agreement limiting the types of business Apple Computer may pursue under the Apple trademark. The case will be heard in London’s High Court later this year. In the two previous cases, Apple Corps emerged as the clear victor, basically dictating terms to Apple Computer.

“This time the outcome is far from a lock for Apple Corps. Make no mistake: There will be a settlement. No one benefits from pushing a case all the way through a full trial and appeals because the costs are prohibitive. But analyst predictions that the case could cost Apple Computer hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement payments, even the use of its own name on music products, are way out of line,” Salkever writes.

“‘The iPod and iTunes brand names are very, very strong,’ says Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with tech consultancy Jupiter Research. In fact, Apple has already taken a step in that direction by creating a new division exclusively for iPod design, production, and manufacturing,” Salkever writes.

“This is one suit that appears to present a strong chance for an Apple Computer win. However, it’s nearly impossible to predict judicial logic — even if the judge owns an iPod, as the one hearing this case does. But if Apple Computer should lose this legal battle, it still has the artillery triumph in the digital-download war. Maybe it could finally ink a deal with Apple Corp that adds those much-missed Beatles songs to the iTunes Music Store,” Salkever writes.

Full article here.


  1. Moo! This whole story is starting to sound like a scratched record. Something Apple Corp no doubt finds comforting unlike digital downloads which they’ve so far failed to take advantage of.

  2. Apple Corp is becoming increasingly irrelevant. I’m hoping this lawsuit costs them a bundle and makes them have to hand over what’s left of their recordings to Apple Computer who will put them to far better use than Apple Corp is at present.

  3. The thing I find so strange here is that Apple (iTMS,iPod) does not actually write songs which they then peddle. They give people tools to create music (garageband, logic), and listen to music (iTMS, iPod). Apple Corps writes music (Beatles albums) which they then sell. I suppose the distinction is pretty gray on a legal level, but on a practical level, their two businesses seem to dovetail perfectly, but do not overlap at all. If anything, I would think they compliment each other greatly.

  4. Once again I have to comment on this. Not that I would advocate the wholesale distribution of copyrighted material, but if I were apple corps (or whatever they call themselves), I would walk very tenderly on this subject. For if they hurt Apple Computer with this crappy lawsuit, I believe there would be a mass mailing of digitized apple corps products throughout the world within 24 hours. With a continuing mass of songs for many months.

    Just something to think about apple corps.

    I fact, since this filing of the lawsuit, I am surprised that this hasn’t happened already…

    I have no problem distinguishing the names, Apple Computer, apple corps., and apple records. I guess the smaller apple companies just are a bit greedy….

    oh, and by the by, paul, I haven’t played or bought anything from your company for 20+ years….it’s all free anyway….

  5. It’s interesting that the iPod ads don’t actually mention the word ‘Apple’ anywhere except as part of the web address at the bottom. Yes, they carry the motif of the Apple logo – but where’s the law against having a picture of a piece of fruit on your publicity?

    Apple Computer have played this one very well.

  6. Apple obviously violated the term of their agreement with Apple Corps, they also had no choice since the addition of music to computing was part of the natural evolution in computing. In terms of a settlement Apple Corps will have to show how they were damaged, Apples actions haven’t resulted in confusion in the marketplace or loss of revenue for Apple Corps.

  7. Let’s not forget the Paul McCartney is a BILLIONAIRE. He, like Apple Comp have plent of coin to backup their litigation. Whether Macca wants to use his stash or not is a different story, but lets not underestimate Apple Corps financial power.

  8. Apple Corp and the career of the fab four were founded on the music of Little Richard and a host of American R&B and Blues artists who never got paid when their styles, ideas, etc. were “sampled” by the Beatles. I have always loved and respected their music, but this lawsuit strikes me as corporate greed run amok.

  9. At last a writer/journalist has done a little research and written a sensible article.

    One thing I want to see from the negotiations is Apple Computer being able to sell physical CDs from iTMS. Customers will get the instant gratification of downloads plus the better quality CD delivered a few days later. Pricing to be determined (say 35% discount and free shipping) but such a combination will put pressure on the music industry to reduce the rates for online music which are ridiculously high, even more than they get from CD sales.

  10. I don’t think it’s that cut & dry that Apple Computer violated the terms of the agreement. From what I’ve read, the agreement stated that Apple Computer was allowed to use the name for items including data transfer, and that’s all iTMS does. It just so happens that the data being transferred becomes music when used by the right software.

  11. You�re all suckers if you want to buy anything from Apple Corpse. Don�t you think if they’d cared about their fans, they�d off released their music on-line? This is the loyalty you get from them, for all you’ve given’ over the years. All your money going to their bank accounts, but it’s not that money they want anymore. You mean nothin’ to them. They want free money. Anyone they can sue from. It’s not like the surviving Corpses are doing anything new, is it? People, get over them & start growing up. There not coming back.

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