Beatles take Jobs & Co. to court – again:
- Applecorps has filed a lawsuit in London against the computer firm over a 22-year-old agreement that Apple Computer (nasdaq: AAPL – news – people ) use the Apple name only for computer products–not music-related enterprises. Apparently Applecorp looks upon the digital music machinations–iPod and iTunes–of the Cupertino,Calif.-based computer firm none too kindly.
….The case, filed in London High Court and seeking penalties and injunctions against Apple Computer, would open the latest chapter in a long and winding road of litigation between the two sides that dates back to Apple Computer’s founding. Steve Jobs–who was heavily influenced by the counterculture attitudes of the late 1960s and early ’70s–has been said to have admitted that the computer company was named Apple in partial tribute to the Beatles.
The Beatles changed the name of their company that oversaw their business interests to Apple in 1967, and released most of their later albums on the Apple Records label, with its distinctive labeling–a green-skinned Apple on the A-side and the halved apple for the B-side. It made Beatles records instantly recognizable on sight–as equally recognizable as the Apple Computer logo is today.
…Apple Computer launched in 1977 in the garage of Steve Jobs’ parents. Its early successes in the personal computer business caught the eye of Applecorps lawyers, and in 1981 the two companies signed a secret pact giving Apple Computer the right to use the Apple name for computer products, but reserved for Applecorps the right to use it for music-related enterprises. Apple Computer also paid a still-secret sum for the privilege.
….Apple Computer attorneys are likely to negotiate another big settlement, one that will likely have the company paying royalties as long as it operates the iTunes store. It can certainly afford it, with more than $4.5 billion in cash reserves.
And maybe, just maybe, such a settlement will include a deal for The Beatles to appear exclusively on the iTunes store service. While the Beatles may have sung about revolution in the late ’60s, they certainly haven’t seemed interested in the digital music revolution taking place around them. The only digital downloads available of Beatles recording are either very early recordings that Applecorps has no control over, or pirated files on services such as Kazaa or Morpheus. With CD sales on the decline, the Beatles run the risk of losing their appeal to younger generations who generally prefer getting music online. [Forbes]
Ironically, maybe this situation will actually make it more likely the Beatles will get with the digital revolution.