Apple and the Beatles Make Peace Over Their Logos

Apple Corps, which owns the Beatles catalogue, sued Apple Inc. decades ago over its logo, top left.
Apple Corps, which owns the Beatles catalogue, sued Apple Inc. decades ago over its logo, top left. (By Sang Tan -- Associated Press)
Associated Press
Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The maker of the iPod and the guardian of the Beatles' music resolved their long-simmering dispute yesterday over who has the right to the Apple trademark.

The settlement between Apple Inc. and Apple Corps -- which holds the rights to the band's music -- offered greater hope to fans that the two sides could now focus on permitting downloads of Beatles songs through the computer company's iTunes Store. The catalogue of all Beatles songs is a holdout from iTunes and other online services.

The two Apples have been exchanging legal salvos for 20 years over their names and fruity logos. The last skirmish came in May, when a British judge ruled that iTunes did not violate a 1991 agreement stipulating that the computer maker could keep using its logo if it didn't enter the music business. An appeal had been scheduled for this month.

The new settlement replaces that agreement and gives Apple Inc. ownership of all the trademarks related to Apple, meaning it can continue using its name and logos in iTunes. Apple Inc. will license some of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for its continued use.

Each side agreed to pay its own legal costs to end the trademark lawsuit. Further terms weren't disclosed.

"We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks," said Steve Jobs, Apple Inc.'s chief executive. "It feels great to resolve this in a positive manner and in a way that should remove the potential of further disagreements."

Neil Aspinall, manager of Apple Corps, said the company was glad to resolve the dispute.

"The years ahead are going to be very exciting times for us. We wish Apple Inc. every success and look forward to many years of peaceful cooperation with them," he said.

The joint announcement did not mention the prospects of Beatles downloads. The Beatles haven't allowed any online service to sell their music. Currently, the only Beatles songs for sale on iTunes are cover versions and tributes, and the only legal way of getting the band's tunes onto iPods is to buy a CD and make a digital copy from that.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company