Let it be: Apple, Beatles settle trademark dispute
LONDON – Apple Computer has said it had settled its long-running trademark dispute with The Beatles over the use of “Apple” as a name and logo, raising hopes that songs by the Fab Four might soon be available online.
Rock’n’roll icons The Beatles lay claim to the apple trademark through their multimedia company Apple Corps and had unsuccessfully sued the California-based computer group in 2006.
The settlement could hold out the possibility that the British group might finally allow their hits to be downloaded over the Internet, possibly on the Apple iTunes website, which is the biggest music download site.
The vast catalogue of Beatles songs, including “Let it Be,” “Hey Jude” and “Come Together,” is barred from legal Internet download sites at the band’s insistence, despite protests from the EMI music label, which owns their recording rights.
An Apple spokeswoman said however that the new “cooperation” between the companies did not signify that Beatles songs would now be available for download and no mention of the issue was made in a statement Monday.
The settlement between Apple Computer and Apple Corps, which replaces a previous 1991 agreement, gives Apple Computer ownership of all trademarks related to “Apple.”
Apple Computer will license certain trademarks back to the Beatles’ Apple Corps for their continued use.
Apple Corps, which uses a green Granny Smith apple as its trademark, is owned by surviving Beatles members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and the widows of bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison.
Apple Computer’s original logo was a multi-coloured, striped apple with a chunk missing. Its new logo is grey.
Apple Corps had sued Apple Computer over the use of the apple logo, particularly on its iTunes website, but the case was thrown out by a British judge in May last year.
The judge said Apple Computer had respected the 1991 agreement between the companies. Apple Corps had said it planned to appeal.
The settlement announced on Monday puts an end to the trademark dispute, with each side agreeing to pay its own legal costs.
Financial details and other terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
“We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, in a statement announcing Monday’s news.
“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.”
Neil Aspinall, manager of Apple Corps, said his company was glad to resolve the dispute.
“The years ahead are going to be very exciting times for us. We wish Apple Inc. every success and look forward to many years of peaceful co-operation with them,” he said.