Apple Computer wins court battle with Beatles

The court accepted Apple Computer's argument that iTunes is mainly a data transmission service, permitted by its agreement with Apple Corps
Written by Sylvia Carr, Contributor

Apple Computer has triumphed in its latest court battle with The Beatles' record label, Apple Corps, over the use of its famous logo.

On Monday the High Court in London ruled that Apple Computer was not liable for trademark infringement because the use of the Apple logo on its iTunes Music Store was not associated with the music it was selling, and thus did not breach a previous settlement between the companies.

Apple Corps had sued the Mac maker claiming the launch of the iTunes online music store overstepped the boundaries set out in a 1991 settlement for how each company could use their shared brand.

The record label sought damages and asked that Apple Computer stop using its name and the Apple logo for selling music online.

During the trial, Apple Corps argued that downloading music off the internet was the same as buying a record in a store while Apple Computer argued the iTunes Music Store was essentially a means for transmitting data.

Legal experts predicted in March, when the trial began, that the case would end with Apple Computer paying out a multimillion-pound settlement to Apple Corps, as it did in 1991.

That $26m (£14m) settlement deal carved up the areas where each company could use the Apple brand. The agreement forbade Apple from distributing music on physical media such as CDs or cassette tapes but it was not clear whether this extended to the distribution of digital music over the internet.

The 1991 settlement followed a deal in 1981 which stipulated Apple Computer must stay out of the music business.

The legal wrangling between the two companies is not over yet — Apple Corps has said it will appeal the decision.

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