Apple versus Apple trademark feud ends


Apple Inc., the computer and digital music company, has bought rights to all “Apple” trademarks from Apple Corps. Ltd., the record company set up by The Beatles, ending a long-running trademark dispute between the two. However, there was no word on whether Apple will soon begin selling The Beatles’ music through its iTunes Store.

Last year the two companies took a dispute over the trademarks to court in London. Apple Corps. alleged that Apple, then called Apple Computer, had breached a 1991 agreement not to use its apple logo to sell music when it launched the iTunes Store.

The companies both use logos based on the fruit: Apple’s is a stylized silhouette of one with a bite taken out, while Apple Corp.’s is a more realistic rendering of the fruit.

Despite an increasing proportion of Apple’s revenue coming from the iTunes-iPod combination, the judge found against the record company in May. Apple’s use of the logo was a reasonable one under the terms of the 1991 agreement, as it was clear that Apple was not using the logo to sell music, but to promote a service through which others could sell their music, he found.

Under the terms of Monday’s deal, Apple will license the Apple name and the green apple logo back to Apple Corps. so that it can continue using them, the two announced Monday. The companies declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal.

There was no word, either, on whether Apple will sell The Beatles’ music through its iTunes Store. At the end of last year’s lawsuit, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said he hoped the two companies would be able to work together to make that happen, but neither company would talk about such a deal Monday.

“This decision doesn’t have anything to do with that,” said Apple Corps. spokeswoman Elizabeth Freund, while a spokeswoman for Apple said “We don’t talk about future plans.”

At EMI Group PLC, the company which holds the publishing rights to The Beatles’ music, spokesman Murray Chalmers declined to comment on whether discussions were taking place with Apple. However, he did not rule out the possibility that the music might be sold through the iTunes Store in the future.

There are plenty of recordings of The Beatles’ hits such as “Come Together” and “Yesterday” available through the iTunes store — but all recorded by tribute bands.


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