May 8, 2006

Apple Computer wins trademark dispute vs Beatles

By Adam Pasick

LONDON (Reuters) - Apple Computer won its courtroom battle
against the Beatles on Monday when a judge ruled the company's
iTunes Music Store did not infringe on the trademark of Apple
Corps, which represents the band's interests.

In a trial which included the playing of disco hit "Le
Freak" in London's High Court, Apple Corps argued the computer
company had violated a 1991 trademark agreement by moving into
the music business.

Apple Computer, which has sold millions of iPods and more
than a billion song downloads, held that iTunes was primarily a
data transmission service and permitted by the agreement.

The Beatles are high-profile holdouts from Internet music
services like iTunes, but it emerged during the trial that
Apple Corps is preparing the band's catalog to be sold online
for the first time, according to a submission by Neil Aspinall,
managing director of Apple Corps and a former Beatles road

"We are glad to put this disagreement behind us," Apple
Chief Executive Steve Jobs said. "We have always loved the
Beatles, and hopefully we can now work together to get them on
the iTunes Music Store."

A spokeswoman for Apple Corps said that no decision had
been made on when the Beatles' songs would be available to
purchase online.

Apple Corps -- owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John
Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and the estate of George Harrison --
has fought several courtroom battles with Apple Computer over
their competing fruit-shaped logos.

A 1991 out-of-court settlement, which included a $26
million payment by Apple Computer, set out areas in which each
party would have exclusive use of their respective logos.

"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.

Apple Corps said it would appeal the decision. Apple
Computer was awarded court costs.