One of the longest-running gags over the past 30 years has been the legal ballet played between Apple Records (the company owned by The Beatles) and Apple Computer. Various settlements have been achieved over the years to placate the music label, who had a 10 year jump-start on using the name.
However, one of the rules of these settlements was that Apple Computer was not to enter the music business. It was a somewhat vague declaration that changed over the years, and first came to blows in 1990, when Apple Computer produced the firt Macintosh with built-in sound recording (the result: Apple Computer paid millions to settle in 1991).
Of course, recent years have seen Apple Computer enter the music industry, with the iPod and the iTunes Music Store. Thus, more lawsuits ensued, the latest one involving the use of the apple as a logo for the iTunes Music Store (it “could be seen as confusing to consumers with regard to brand identity” was the main focus of the suit). This morning London’s High Court ruled in favor of Apple Computer:
“I find no breach of the trademark agreement has been demonstrated,” Mr Justice Mann said in his judgment on Monday. “The action therefore fails.”
“I think the use of the apple logo is a fair and reasonable use of the mark in connection with the service,” Mann said, referring to a central argument of Apple Corps over the use of the Apple Computer logo within the iTunes Music Store.
So call the score even – and maybe we’ll see The Beatles’ catalog show up in the iTunes Music Store sometime soon.