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Apple Corps vs. Apple Computer in High Court

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 29 Mar 2006 4:43 User comments (30)

Apple Corps vs. Apple Computer in High Court Apple Corps was founded in 1968 to publish music by The Beatles and to sign new musicians. George Harrison found an advertisement for an Apple Computer in a computer magazine in 1980 and decided that it infringed Apple Corps' trademark. Apple Corps told Apple Computer to change its name if it wanted to continue producing music making machines and in 1991, Apple Computer agreed to stay out of the music business and paid a settlement of $26.5 million.
However, in 2003, Apple launched its music download service, iTunes. The company has so far sold over 1 billion tracks, but is the company breaking the agreement it made with Apple Corps? On Wednesday, the High Court in London will decide whether the agreement between both companies has been breached. The suit was filed in September 2003 by Apple Corps, and its over "the use by Apple Computer of the word 'Apple' and apple logos in conjunction with its new application for downloading pre-recorded music from the Internet".

Apple Computer doesn't see its new service as infringing any past agreements however. According to reports, the company claims that iTunes allows "data transmission" and that downloads are permitted in terms of the agreement as they are "data transfers". Whether the court will see eye to eye with that claim will be seen soon.

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30 user comments

129.3.2006 5:54

"data transfers" very sneaky steve jobs

229.3.2006 8:50

I had never heard of apple corp like the beatles did make enough money Im sure most people downloading have never even heard of apple corp I know thats not the point. Is apple corp even around anymore I never heard of them. Sounds like somebody wants a free ride, what a bunch of crap. Leave Steve Jobs alone has he not sufford enough it seems like apple is always got some legal issue or problem.

329.3.2006 9:08

apple computer will not stop itunes

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 29 Mar 2006 @ 15:26

429.3.2006 12:49

slmh1296 Think you could look over your posts just a little before you post them, please? Writing that um... bad makes my head hurt. Not what you are saying, but how it is written. So, I take it you've never heard of Apple Corps, eh? Oh, and you are right, Steve Jobs has not suffered enough. ;-)

529.3.2006 13:41

Its a dumb lawsuit to start with.

629.3.2006 13:42

Seriously, I hope English isn't your first language. Steve Jobs hasn't suffered at all...when Apple gets sued Steve Jobs doesn't have to do anything except right the lawyers a check. And he can do that with the amount of ipods that have sold in the last 30 seconds.

729.3.2006 14:49

Hollywood is fcking stupid...reason why Detective Conan was renamed Case closed becuse of the Conan IPs...its pure BUll shit hell change it to KONAN for christ sakes.....mabye just mabye I could see it IF it was a midevil fighting anime..but morern detecive drama anime.....oy vay......I still cant figure out why they renamed solty rei...

829.3.2006 17:56


929.3.2006 18:25

ker7099 Hollywood is stupid and takes the protection of their intellectual property 's a ANiem show thats on Cartoon Network had to change its name when it was DUBED becuse of the CONAN Moive IPS,So is the Apple corps goign to wage war on all apple named companies or jsut the rich ones? this is pure BS....

1029.3.2006 18:30

ker7099 Hollywood is stupid and takes the protection of their intellectual property 's a step to far,a Anime show thats on Cartoon Network had to change its name when it was DUBED becuse of the CONAN Moive IPS,So is the Apple corps goign to wage war on all apple named companies or jsut the rich ones? this is pure for Solty Rei I cant find any info on why their are changeing its name for the USA(to Origin),its like calling Inu yasha ....Dog boy....

1130.3.2006 5:22

lets hope the beatles win, it would then mean that 'data transfer' in any form is legal...... yipee

1230.3.2006 9:56

I hope the beatles win too... I hope microsoft sue apple for that intel advert aswell Stop apple :D They intentially wanted to recreate the success of the beatles and the apple logo was the closest they could get :D

1330.3.2006 10:20

The person who has never heard of Apple Corps must be under the age of 25. Apple was deliberately invoking the Beatles when they titled the product at the end of the 1970's. Based on precedendt in such matters, I'd say Apple Corps was generous in their allowance of the settlement in the first place. And yes, with neither side exactly hurting for money, who cares??

1430.3.2006 10:23

oops did i say beatles win, obviously the apple corp win would mean data transfer is then legal, if its in the form of music when it gets to the other end well... ce' la vie....its only data

1530.3.2006 10:24

One more point, the next logical move for Apple/iTunes is the music publishing business. You can bet they have a strategy in place and they are indeed perfectly poised to do some "armtwisting" vis-a-vis unsigned artists and iTunes exposure. If Apple Corps leaves the current usage uncontested, then they weaken any future attempts to protect their trademark in the music publishing business.

1630.3.2006 10:59

Perhaps I am missing something--Apple Corps (which I have never heard of before and I am 35 years old) isn't Apple Computers. I really don't understand how The Beatles were able to successfully sue Apple Computers. It is true the word 'apple' is in the title, but other than that I don't see a resemblence. Anyway, I am definately not the biggest Beatles fan although some of their later stuff (and John Lennon's solo stuff) was pretty good. I am, however, a big fan of "data transfers" or "transmission" or whatever you want to call them. The world is changing; let's move on to the future regardless of what we like about the past.

1730.3.2006 15:25

Perhaps Apple Corps and their music publishing subsidiaries want to move forward WITH the trademark they established for themselves some decades ago. Is it so unreasonable that they might want to do future business under this name and not have it hijacked by Apple (computer)music publishing entities? you're missing the whole point of why anyone creates a trademark in the first place if you can't see why they'd want to protect it. The Beatles may be done, but Apple Corps is a thriving company with substantial assets that may wish to continue doing business under it's own name. If you've ever bought or even seen the "let it be" or "past masters" cds, not to mention numerous other releases by Badfinger, George Harrison, James Taylor and others, then you have indeed encountered the apple (music) logo.

1830.3.2006 20:12

It seems to me that Apple Computers are talking out their backsides. If you've so far made half a billion plus dollars from selling music tracks, whether it be by the means of computer data or on printed paper, then you are in the music industry. Apple Corp haven't a problem with Apple Computers being in the music industry. The agreement was that Apple Computers would not use the Apple name or logo if they wanted to compete in the music industry. They are end of story.

1930.3.2006 21:52

I can't understand people trying to support Apple Computers in this case. Apple computers have already been in court twice with Apple Corp and both times they were told NOT to go into the music industry with the Apple name and logo. So what do Apple Computers do? They completely ignore both court cases and do it anyway. Are they really that shocked that Apple Corp decided to sue them again. As regards leaving Steve Jobs alone cause Apple always have legal issues, well maybe they stopped making stupid decisions they wouldn't have any legal issues.

2031.3.2006 8:41

Sounds like a stupid waste of the courts time to me. I'm sorry but I don't see the overlap. Oh well, I guess it's a good way for the lawyers to make some extra cash. I am 42 years old, and grew up in Europe, and have never heard of Apple Corp.

2131.3.2006 9:12

It is NOT a waste of the courts, and, in fact, is going to set a precedent which will affect the LITTLE GUY (and hopefully in a positive way for a change). Apple Computer is a big thriving comglomerate seeking to have its way regardless of the law and even its own previous stringent legal agreements. A high court ruling in favor of Apple Corps will mean that people like you and me (or at least me anyway) are less likely to be muscled out of a trademark we may at some point work hard to establish, that's really all this case is about. The very thing that makes this case so disinteresting to us "little people" is the very thing that means it will be as fair as any such case can be: both sides can afford to fight it out and have equally heavy legal artillery at their disoposal.

2231.3.2006 10:52

I would judge it by applying "the essence of the transaction" test. What was the intended transaction. Did the purchaser intend to buy a data transmission or was the data transmission the method of delivery used to purchase online music. Does it change the essence of the transaction if you have the MP3 mailed to your house instead? NO, the purchaser was trying to purchase music. The focus should be on the end result and not the method of delivery.

2331.3.2006 11:42

I think you can actually go one further, and this is where Apple Corps can REALLY pull out the big guns: If you consider an Mp3/M4p to be a "transcription" of a musical work (which indeed it is, ask the US copyright office) then Apple is flagrantly violating the most sacred element of ALL it's agreements with Apple Corps, the ONE thing it promised it would never EVER do...

2431.3.2006 11:43

Publishing Music! (forgot to say that, sorry...)

251.4.2006 0:15

We give Apple Computers, money, they supply files which contain copyrighted music- sounds like they're in the music business to me.

261.4.2006 3:15

A> to all who CLAIM they never heard of Apple Corps (pronounced core) (especially the 42 year old) get out a 45 of any of the later records, the ones with a green apple sliced to the core on its middle. that is the logo of Apple Records, an arm of apple corps. all the other arms also have to do with the music industry. and all are controled by Apple Corps, which was founded by the Beatles. The Beatles don't own it anymore but the agreement lives on which boils down to: "we are only interested in the music industry... you keep your hands off" (from Apple Corps view of course, Apple's view of it was "you get money and the music industry and we get everything else") Notice the lopsidedness, one gets just their nitch and the other gets everything else. When I was growing up (age 48) I only heard of Apple Records. But the hard core fans knew of the other things the Beatles were doing with their money. and quite a few other artists were published on apple records. I haven't heard of Appkle Records for a while now, but when "the Liverpool Boys" cashed out, their enterprises were sold to parties who were doing it to make a profit, not to fade away and die. If Apple succedes then the court will be saying it is ok to break a deal when it suits you

272.4.2006 11:52


oops did i say beatles win, obviously the apple corp win would mean data transfer is then legal, if its in the form of music when it gets to the other end well... ce' la vie....its only data
Hey Guy. You are a newbie! How come you seemed to be the only one that got it right. Apple Computer with itunes violated the agreement and will lose this lawsuit. Maybe in the US they could win, but not in GB. All they are trying to do is have the law work both ways. They want it legal for them but not legal for you!!! What's next? Copywriting XXXs and 000s? theonejrs

282.4.2006 14:46

I think that the rights to the apple (beatles label) is owned by micheal jackson anyhow and its probably illeagal to infringe on their rights but.....are they acually selling any music now anyway? or is it all about the money? Maybe they should just sell their own ipod and call it an apple....and see how apple computer likes it. Maybe then the suits will cease.

292.4.2006 17:06

This is not a normal IP case I relizse that after removeing my head from my seems the waxy build up it casueing me to go insane again...but I diagress,this is rather simple APPLE CORPS won in court years ago to make sure APPLE COMPUTER stays out of the music industry..and lo today we have MP3s and ITunes...guess who just lost milloins if not thier name and tradmark,altho I have a feeling Apple will be able to pay its way out of this sicne APPLE corps is just a hanging on,they might have soem nice IPs but thier not makeing money like apple. this can go 4 ways 1.Apple computer loses its name and brand (likely) 2.Apple coprs takes over Itunes (not likely) OR 3.Apple coprs becomes a 50/50 or so partner in Itunes 4.Apple Corps takes milloins to shut up,and milloins more to stay "quite" and as long as Itunes stays in the Internet realm all will be happy makieng money.

302.4.2006 18:56

here's the facts on Apple Corps: I think Apple Corps will win a big judgement and Apple Computer will have to keep it's name and it's logo out of any arm of the music industry (excepting it's recording softwares and hardwares, which have been allowed by previous settlements). Does Britsh law allow for punitive damages? If so I see Apple Computer stock dropping a bit and Apple Corps suddenly having some new working capitol. We may see a win/win settlement whereby Apple Corps assumes control of iTunes music publishing ventures as a means of settlement and also a means for Apple Computer to have instant entree into a diversified joint venture instead of losing it's shirt (which it would if I were the judge!) but given the animosity building up around this matter, I would not bet on it... It's not in Apple Corps best interest to bankrupt Apple Computer, so we'll be seeing a combination of structured payout with most likely some low-level joint venture activity (like, say, the Beatles catalogue going on iTunes sans fees and with court ordered promotional budget).

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