In a brutal, juice-splattered judicial grudge rematch between Apple Corps and Apple Computer, the Jobs posse turned the Beatles crew to sauce.
Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and the families of George Harrison and John Lennon went to British High Court seeking multimillion-pound damages against Apple Computer for creating the iPod and iTunes Music Store, which the Corps claimed were in violation of a 1991, $26 million agreement prohibiting the computer company from entering the music sphere.
Mr. Justice Anthony Mann ruled today that Steve Jobs and co. used the Apple logo in association with its store, not the music itself, and so was not in breach. He concluded iTunes was “a form of electronic shop” and not involved in creating music. “I think that the use of the apple logo is a fair and reasonable use of the mark in connection with the service, which does not go further and unfairly or unreasonably suggest an additional association with the creative works themselves,” Mann wrote in his judgment.
iPods and iTunes will still be able to carry the Apple name and logo. There will be dancing in the streets of Cupertino, but the Beatles’ label, feeling pulped, will appeal. Apple Corps manager Neil Aspinall sniffed, “With great respect to the trial judge, we consider he has reached the wrong conclusion.”
Steve Jobs, cider dripping down his chin, said, “We are glad to put this disagreement behind us. We have always loved The Beatles, and hopefully we can now work together to get them on the iTunes Music Store.” The Beatles have not yet licensed their music for digital sale and their music is not available on the service, which has sold more than 1 billion song downloads since it opened in 2002.
The Beatles formed Apple Records in 1968, while Jobs founded Apple Computer in ’78. The first Apple-on-Apple lawsuit in 1976 resulted in an $80,000 settlement and a pledge by the geeks to stay away from the tunes. In a ’91 clash, Apple Corps was awarded $26 million and rights to the name on “creative works whose principal content is music.” Apple Computer was allowed usage on “goods and services … used to reproduce, run, play or otherwise deliver such content.”