On this day in 2006, a London court ruled that Apple Computer could use the Apple logo on its iTunes Music Store, and that doing so would not constitute a breach of the company’s 1991 consent agreement with Apple Corps., the Beatles’ record company.
In 1981, Apple Corps and Apple Computer entered into a consent agreement concerning the use of the “Apple” trademark and logos – Apple Computer could only use the mark in connection with computers so long as the computers didn’t record, reproduce, or create music. In 1989, after Apple Computer started developing computers that were capable of synthesizing music, Apple Corps sued Apple Computer for breaching the agreement. The parties settled and entered into a new agreement in 1991. That agreement generally gave Apple Corps the exclusive right to use the Apple marks in connection with Apple Corps’ artists, any music content, and certain promotional merchandising relating to music. The agreement gave Apple Computer the exclusive right to use the name and logo in connection with electronic goods. After Apple Computer launched its iTunes Music Service in 2003, Apple Corps sued again. The court found that Apple Computer’s use of the Apple logo in connection with the iTunes music store did not violate the agreement because Apple Computer used the logo in connection with the retail store, not the content of the music itself.
The two Apples finally settled the trademark dispute in 2007. Apple Computer now owns all of the trademarks related to “Apple,” but licenses some of those trademarks back to Apple Corps. The terms of the settlement are confidential.
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