Beatles’ Apple vs. Jobs’ Apple goes to UK High Court this Wednesday

“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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Related articles:
Apple Computer and The Beatles’ AppleCorp should stop fighting in court and work together instead – July 27, 2005
Beatles vs. Apple Computer: outcome is far from a lock for Beatles – September 30, 2004
Apple vs. Apple settlement to result in iTunes Music Store Beatles exclusive? – September 23, 2004
Apple’s iTunes Music Store to land exclusive Beatles deal? – September 20, 2004
Apple vs. Beatles could be solved with fat check and spinning off iTunes from Apple Computer – September 17, 2004
Apple’s settlement with Beatles could be ‘biggest settlement in legal history’ – September 13, 2004
The Beatles to sell songs via Apple iTunes Music Store? – June 09, 2004
Apple loses: Apple v. Beatles to be heard in Britain – April 06, 2004
Beatles’ Apple vs. Jobs’ Apple; 1991 agreement allows for ‘data transmission services, even music’ – February 26, 2004
Apple Computer to contest Beatles’ U.K. lawsuit in court today – February 25, 2004
Jobs: Apple vs. Apple ‘could drag on for years – it’s unfortunate because we love the Beatles’ – September 28, 2003
Forbes: Apple vs. Apple; iTunes Music Store just might end up with exclusive Beatles deal – September 12, 2003
Sosumi: more on the Beatles’ lawsuit against Apple Computer, Inc. – September 12, 2003
The Beatles sue Apple Computer over iPod, iTunes – September 12, 2003
The Beatles’ Apple Records could be gearing up for fight with Apple Computer – August 12, 2003
The Beatles gearing up for a fight over Apple’s iTunes Music Store – June 03, 2003


  1. This seems like a clear example of a situation that Apple Computer, Inc. could have and should have squashed a long time ago. If you have to have stinkin’ lawyers, then at least put them to good use rather than squashing some web sites.

    Apple is not distributing music on “physical media” and that, alone, should be a sufficient basis to end the lawsuit. This isn’t the U.S. Constitution under interpretation – it is a simple legal contract and any ambiguity is in Apple’s favor.

    In addition, the Apple name is not being used to distribute music content. Music is sold and delivered by the iTunes Music Store.

    Buy the idiots and put the entire music collection on iTMS as an exclusive with cut-rate pricing just to piss them off. I am so sick of the greed in this world. There are a lot of people living off of someone else’s “intellectual property” and not contributing a fscking thing to this world (except copious and grossly indulgent consumption).

  2. An interesting case. Fortunately Apple computer has lots of cash and hopefully, this time, some lawyers that will put this to bed once and for all.

    It would be totally gross if Yoko gets any of the money.

  3. It’s clear that Stevie J is not inclined to settle this. And Apple is not inclined to pay the Beatles any more money.

    The contract did not properly anticipate the future and the judge will construe the contract narrowly and specifically, as it was written. The Beatles are in essence saying: Dear Judge, our old lawyers did a lousy job writing a contact, please give us money for things “not in the contact”

    The Beatles are screwed

  4. every time you have to specify, “Apple Corps was the name of the Beatles record label.. it’s essentially defunct”.. their case gets weaker and weaker..

    no one is confusing the two brands…

    combine that with the physical media element, and the Beatles better fight hard, or they won’t get much out of this.

    The basis for the entire case is about 30 years out of date, contract or no contract. The judge knows this..

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