Apple computer and Apple Corps, parent company of the Beatles' Apple records have duked it out in the British courts once again.
As early as 1981 Apple Corps began legal proceedings, and ultimately obtained a settlement with the computer manufacturer over its use of the word “Apple” and various logos. As part of that deal, the California based computer maker paid approximately twenty six million dollars for the right to use the marks in connection with its computer products and services. The deal didn't cover use of the marks in connection with the music business, which was reserved to the record label.
When Apple launched its Ipod product line and Itunes music download service in 2004, the parties interests once again came into conflict, and Apple Corps filed its lawsuit.
Last week, the British judge hearing the case ruled in favor of the computer maker on grounds that the agreement's prohibition on use of the mark in connection with the sale of music ‘content' related to that content owned by Apple Computer, but did not explicitly restrict the company's use of the Apple name and logos in the retail sale of music owned by others.
An interesting distinction.
No word yet whether Apple Corps will appeal.