March 29, 2006
The Beatles and Apple Face Off in Court
LONDON -- The Beatles and Apple Computer are set to face off in on Wednesday in a trademark dispute triggered by Apple's move into the music business through its popular iPod player and iTunes download service.
Apple Corps Ltd, owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and the estate of George Harrison, has sued Apple Computer twice before over the companies' competing fruit logos.The latest settlement in 1991 resulted in a $26 million payment by Apple Computer and an agreement to limit its participation in the music business.
Apple Corp claims that Apple Computer's prominent position in the music industry, with more than 1 billion songs sold online through the iTunes Music Store, violates that agreement.
Apple Computer has also sold some 14 million iPods, helping to transform how people listen to music. Judge Edward Mann, who is hearing the case in London's High Court, is a self-professed iPod user.
The Beatles, through Apple Corps, have thus far refused to license any of their recordings for sale through online music services. Fans have speculated that a negotiated settlement between the companies could result in Beatles songs being sold through iTunes.