California Intellectual Property Blog


Apple Settles Trademark Dispute with The Beatles

microphone Apple Inc. has settled its lengthy trademark dispute with The Beatles (music)-owned Apple Corps Ltd, which opens the door to the legendary rock band’s music to be sold via Apple Inc.’s iTunes Music store.

The two companies have agreed that Apple Inc. will own all of the trademarks related to the brand name “Apple” and its logos, and will “license certain of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for their continued use,” according to a press release. Both parties have also agreed to pay their own legal costs for the battle they had waged prior to the settlement.

“We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks,” Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs said in a prepared statement. “It feels great to resolve this in a positive manner, and in a way that should remove the potential of further disagreements in the future.”

Apple Inc. and Apple Corps Ltd originally entered into an agreement in 1991, the language of which prohibited Apple Inc. from using the Apple trademark and logo in association with music sales; the company’s offerings at the time were limited to computers. The recently settled dispute arose several years ago, after Apple Inc. launched its iTunes Music Store and iPod digital-music player, both of which have become the leaders of their respective markets.

Apple Corps Ltd–owned by Paul McCartney; Ringo Starr; John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono; and the estate of the late George Harrison–continues to withhold The Beatles’ work from the digital-music marketplace despite a major adoption of the format by most artists and record labels. The company announced last April that The Beatles’ entire catalog was being digitally remastered in preparation for its yet-to-be-announced online release.


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