AfterDawn: Tech news

Apple Corp says case is about logos

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 29 Mar 2006 15:00 User comments (17)

Apple Corp says case is about logos The Apple Corp. vs Apple Computer Inc. case opened today in the High Court in London with the Apple Corp. lawyer Geoffrey Vos saying that the problem is not with music, it's with logos. "Apple Computer can go into the recorded music business in any way they want," Vos said. "What they cannot do is use Apple trademarks to do it." To demonstrate, he displayed an iTunes advertisement to the court where the familiar bitten apple logo appears.
"That advertisement is as flagrant violation of this agreement as it is possible to imagine," he said. He also dismissed claims made by Apple Computer that the iTunes download store sells "digital transfers", clearing it of any infringement. "What Apple Computer are not doing using the Apple mark is selling software, delivery systems, or anything of the like. They are selling music," he said, "and that is in violation of the agreement."

The agreement was made in 1991 between both companies. It governed how both could use their Apple trademarks. Vos claimed that Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs offered Apple Corp. just $1 million for the trademark and was turned down.


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17 user comments

130.3.2006 10:40

I've seen some incredibly strongarmed protection suits in my day, usually it's the big corporation intimidating a Mom and Pop business with "protection racket" type tactics. Most small companies cannot afford the legal fees and the big companies are able to drag it out for the long haul, thus forcing the smaller company to knuckle-under. This case is interesting because: a.) both companies are well -poised to fight to the death if need be and b.) I think Apple Corps is actually justified in this case. Anyone around in the late 70*s new that Apple Computer was deliberately invoking the Beatles, no question about it. All in all I think some solid and rare precedent will emerge from this case. At the end of the day, the precedent set is the only thing we should care about, as neither side is living on food stamps!

230.3.2006 13:29

I wish someone would tell Paul and Ringo's lawyers that we under 60 can tell the difference between Apple Records and Apple Computers. I'd bet only the percentage of people that think tv characters are real people have any such trouble. As such this endless litigation just makes Apple Records look like a bunch of crybabies. Look Apple Records, the shelves are bare, I'm not buying anymore Beatles stuff because I bought it all already. You aren't losing money because Apple Computers exist, you aren't making money because the only two of four founders already have a foot in the grave! The time for Apple Records to be a big company is over. Have a little grace and go quietly with dignity instead of trying to milk every last penny. Who do the Beatles think they are? Elvis Presley? Roll over Beethoven! John Lennon wants to spin next to you in his grave! (well his ashes are spinnin' someplace)

330.3.2006 15:15

maybe our generation can tell the difference, but younger ones are likely to be confused, and the use of the logo and name in question is indeed cause for charges of infringement. this has nothing to do with the Beatles and everything to do with the legal protection of an identifiable trademark. People must be really stupid if they confuse "Apple music" with "Apple music", huh?

430.3.2006 15:50

I think that confusion between the two Apples is a stupid excuse for this lawsuit. It just make me as an Apple computer user hate Apple Records for being greedy when I didn't have any negative feelings about them to begin with. I don't think the idiot kids who would be confused in the first place would be buying Beatles records anyway. Besides I don't think the Beatles deserve to own the word apple. Who will they sue next? Apple juice makers? Apple growers?


530.3.2006 16:03

No but maybe "apple music" is a fair lawsuit, don't you think?? Study the law a little and come back with your opinions. Better yet, try to establish a trademark for yourself and then have someone steal it and see how you feel about the matter. And it's NOT about the Beatles, it's about the company they started (which is still very much active) and had hoped to leave to their heirs (regardless of whether we think they have enough money...) or dispose of in any way they saw fit. It is not for us to say they should not protect their trademark becuase we think they have too much money. Normally I'm with the little guy on things like this, but in this case I'll just call it as I see it. Apple Corps should win, no doubt about it. If Apple computer felt they were never infringing to begin with, then they made a grave mistake by settling out of court in the early 1990's. The fact that they settled tells us they themselves knew they were possibly infringing on Apple Corps turf. I don't think anyone should have exclusive license to the word "apple" and neither do the courts. Apple computer is one thing, Apple (in the form of iTunes coupled with the apple loge) music is another.

630.3.2006 16:13

And you assign accusations of "greed" somewhat selectively, considering the ubiquitous complaints of non-existent customer service and shoddy design that we hear of everyday in regards to the ridiculously overpriced iPod. If the Beatles had invented the iPod it would have been built to last, my friend!

730.3.2006 16:24

Well, here's how I feel about 'names'. My given name is actually Michael Jackson which was my parent's unintentional sense of humor since they named me when Wacko Jacko was a mere babe of 2 or 3 himself. There are several other Michael Jackson's in the world that would like tto sue the King of Weird for well, being a weird jackass at best and probably child molester at worst. No one would confuse the washed up pop star with the LA radio guy, the British general or the Aussie beer expert that are also separate if not superior Michael Jacksons. Wacko isn't entitled to own what is also our name, in fact he should apologize for defaming it. No other Michael Jacksons are trying to 'be' Michael Jackson. It's our name too. Apple Corps just wants to make a cheap buck now that Apple computer has grown multinational. What do they want? Money? How are their 'heirs' being harmed exactly? Has this hurt their feelings? Truth is I would bet you a zillion bucks 5% of the people you could find on the street could even tell you the Beatles HAD their own record label or company. That Apple Computers has eclipsed Apple Records in brand recognition is because of making great products, not counting on confusion with a brand that has long since faded from the cultural zeitgeist. Music and culture have moved on to a new generation. I'm 43 so even I know my generations music can't keep the center stage this day in age much less the Beatles. Truly what catches ANY attention is the word BEATLES not Apple Corps. If anything Apple Corps would have been wiser to embrace iTunes and educate in cool advertising rather than litigate. Apple Computer users love the spirit of the Beatles and would be glad to be part of spreading a positive message, but this naked money grab only gets Apple Corps and Records bad karma...


830.3.2006 16:56

Okay you're obviously not getting this so let's just put it simply. Suppose you started a company called "Coke" computers and Coca Cola sued you: would they be right to do so in your eyes? What if your then decided to diversify by selling, say soft drinks online and using the name "Coke" to do so: would they have a case? What you're rather blindly refusing to see is that Apple Corps is NOT the Beatles or their heirs per se. It is a corporation attempting to do business in music publishing with a name and a logo that it staked out for itself some decades ago. Apple Corps will go on without any living Beatles and without any living Beatle heirs. It may actually be a company someone like you might buy some stock in one day if you saw it as a good investment. If you had stock in the company, would you not want the board of directors to protect the trademark so that your shares earned proper dividends and were not potentially defamed or infringed upon in the market place by another company using a name you had rightly staked out as your trademark? If Apple computer were to stay in COMPUTERS with the name Apple, then all is okay by me (and by the courts in most cases). When they start to market recording systems and then move on to music distribution and eventually to music publishing (the very business Apple Corps established it's trademark in a decade prior to Apple Computer's birth), then they are in the wrong, period. Apple Corps has to act now or they weaken their claim when Apple Computer starts music publishing entities (which they surely have in the works already, and certainly if you consider iTunes to be a music distribution entity).

930.3.2006 17:08

This is all quite simple really. Both Apple Corp and Apple Computers have already been in the courts about this, this is the third time in fact. The first time in 1981 Apple Computer paid out $80,000 and made a promise to stay out of the music business. The next time in 1991, Apple Computer paid $26.5 million. The computer giant agreed that although it may be involved in digital music, it would not package, sell or distribute any physical music materials, such as CDs. The main argument is if selling music via iTunes is the same as selling physical music. A lot of analysts seem to think that once again Apple Corp will win and that Apple Computers will have to pay out a massive sum of money. Apple are even supposed to already have plans in place for if they are told to remove the Apple logo and name from iPods and iTunes and sell them via a different company.

1030.3.2006 17:29

And Apple Corps wants to make damned sure Apple Computers stays OUT of the music publishing business with that name and logo, and rightly so I should think!

1130.3.2006 21:28

I think that Apple Computer should have been able to pull this off without any major snags. (In fact I was over on excite earlier posting on this subject in favor of i Tunes.) At the time I did not realize that i Tunes was actually using the picture of an apple as the logo. At least I had never noticed it. If this is indeed true then that was a major blunder that will most likely cost Apple Computer the case. Had Apple Computer totally "spun-off" the music company as a seperate entity unconnected to Apple Computer Inc., then I don't believe anyone could have touched them. They still might even have had a chance even so, but the use of the apple on the logo, (as anyone who still has any Beatles tunes on vinyl could tell you), is probably going to lose it for them. It's really sort of a shame because as I said on, I seriously doubt anyone would have downloaded a Shakira song believing that there was any connection to The Beatles.

1230.3.2006 21:50

PS Yes The Beatles were quite remarkable in a POP/Top 40 kind of way but I'll still take The Rolling Stones as the better Rockers. (Oops, I guess that's a little off topic isn't it? Sorry about that, chaps.) ;)

1330.3.2006 21:56

Whether the consumer is immediately confused is not the point, and please don't make me say ONE MORE TIME that this IS NOT ABOUT THE BEATLES! Apple Corps and it's publishing arms publish music by MANY artists, not just the Beatles. They also release (in conjuction with Capitol/EMI at this time) recordings. It's like if you wanted to just call yourself Warner Music, it's really that simple. They (Apple Corps) should have the right to expand and diversify within the music business in any way they see fit using the trademark they staked out almost 4 decades ago. The ablility for them to sell the Apple Corps holdings would indeed be hampered if any buyer saw themselves as having to compete with Apple Computer, for instance. Also, the reckless disrespect for the sanctity of the trademark that has been displayed by Apple Computer is simply astonishing. I hope the high court knocks them on their asses with a punitive judgement. Otherwise, any corporation will just do whatever they want and factor in the settlement costs (knowing that if they are BIG it will be a minor expense) with no respect to the rights of trademark and/or copyright holders. Interesting that Apple so vehemently defends their protected music formatting when they've no regard whatsoever for the protected property of Apple Corps (which they acknowledged and agreed to respect TWICE now in courts of law). In my opinion they are begging to have the book thrown at them and more power to Paul, Ringo, Yoko and Sean, and the Harrison family when that happens.

1430.3.2006 22:09

One more thing: lest there be any confusion, it is my belief that "digital music" meant ONLY that Apple could use the name and the logo to sell it's studio and home recording softwares and any associated hardwares, something Apple Corps graciously acquiesced in exchange for the $29 million dollar settlement. I assure you that any recording suite or tools having been endorsed by the likes of Paul, Ringo, George, Yoko and Sean would have made HUNDREDS of millions of dollars easily. Think about that for a minute and hopefully you'll gain some perspective on how disrespectful Apple Computer is really being here.

1530.3.2006 23:03

Yes, my friend, technically you are correct. As I said, what Apple Computer should have done was to "spin-off" the music division as a company legally unassociated with Apple Computer Inc., (believe me, spin-offs have saved many a corporations bacon). I still believe that no one actually makes the mental association between i Tunes and Apple Records. This is why I think that Apple Computer botched the whole situation for which they will most likely be legally spanked. While it's true that the stockholders of Apple Records has every right and should expect to collect on Apple Computer's huge blunder, I feel that Apple Records is in the fortunate position to recover Apple Computer's fumble. I really don't see where Apple Records was morally wronged because in the spirit of the law i Tunes gained not a cent of revenue by fooling anyone, say in the sense that some companies try to package their generic product to look like a brand name. Quite the contrary. Apple Records should thank Steve Jobs or whoever was in charge for leaving the winning lotto ticket on their doorstep. There are also no great tears shed by me for Apple Computer because, as I said, they totally botched this one.

162.4.2006 16:15

god like all of these comments except for mine are like a paragraph long

172.4.2006 17:16

Is there supposed to be a limit or something? All the comments except yours had something to say - what a coincidence! this should help clear up confusion:

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