via CopyCense, 5/9/06:
The music company owned by Apple Corps today lost its legal battle against Apple Computer over the US firm's use of an apple logo for iTunes.
"The high court in London ruled that Apple Computer -- makers of the phenomenally successful iPod music player -- had not infringed upon Apple Corp's trademarks by selling music through its iTunes Music Store.
"Lawyers for Apple Corps -- which is owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the families of John Lennon and George Harrison -- had argued that the iTunes store broke a 1991 deal between the two companies.
Guardian Unlimited. Beatles Label Loses Apple Logo Case to iTunes. May 8, 2006.
Jefferson Graham. Apple Prevails in Suit By Beatles. USA Today. May 8, 2006.
more via ONDEADLINE, 5/8/06:
Apple Computer has beaten the Beatles' Apple Corps in a court battle over the iTunes Music Store. The suit came down to a logo, the Associated Press reports. "Apple Corps contended that the computer company had broken a 1991 agreement in which each side agreed not to enter into the other's field of business. But Judge Edward Mann ruled that the logo was used in association with the store, not the music, and thus was not a breach of the agreement."
The technology correspondent at Britain's Guardian newspaper reacts: "That's a surprise result, as far as I was concerned. Somebody asked me what the result was likely to be on Friday and I was fairly convinced that Apple Corps would win, but not emphatically. Looks like I was wrong." According to an Apple Corps statement obtained by Macworld UK, the company plans to appeal.
Update at 7:02 a.m. ET: The Guardian adds an analysis piece, "Apple vs. Apple: Why didn't Apple (the music one) win?" The piece admits it doesn't have the full story on the ruling, but looks at how Apple Computers could be seen as a data transmission service instead of a physical music mover.
Also, Macworld UK says it now has a statement from Apple Computers CEO Steve Jobs. Among his purported comments: "We have always loved the Beatles, and hopefully we can now work together to get them on the iTunes Music Store."
from the Guardian Unlimited, 5/8/06:
Here's a relevant quote about the 1991 agreement (which hasn't been made public, except in parts through court documents):
In 1991, Apple Corps sued Apple Computer again, alleging that by adding sound to computers, the computer company was in violation of the 1981 agreement. This time Apple Computer paid $26.5 million. The computer giant agreed that although it may be involved in digital music, it would not package, sell or distribute any physical music materials, such as CDs.
Simple question: does Computer package, sell or distribute any physical music materials? That's the crux of the whole argument. And the answer has to be no. When the iTunes Music Store tells the hard drive on your computer to rearrange some of its bits, there's nothing physical being passed. Just instructions. In theory, Computer could sell songs by having semaphore teams and someone standing by your computer, adjusting the 0s and 1s on the platter in just the right way to create a copy of the song that's at the Store. It wouldn't be elegant or quick (possibly this is why they don't use it) but it would be the same process, in principle. [read on...]
The suit's origin was in Apple Computer's creation of iTunes, which Apple Corps interpreted as a violation of a 1991 agreement that would, in its opinion, have prevented the other Apple from distributing music. (The agreement would also have prevented Apple Corps from making computers.) Apple Corps, which was founded in 1968 to gather the Beatles' business interests under one roof, seems to have been born for trouble. Its logo, designed by Gene Mahon, is as clean and crisp as it ever was, but to many observers the company appears to have done a better [job] of spawning lawsuits over the years than of fostering the Beatles' interests.
The judge's decision in this case comes even as the two Apples are working toward something most music lovers have been longing for: the release of the Beatles' catalog for downloading over the Internet. That may now have to wait for two things: an appeal of the judge's decision and the ongoing remastering of the Beatles' records.
To us, remastering the songs is more important than making them downloadable. It's hard to imagine a canon of songs more central to the musical imagination of our lifetime, or one more badly served by recording technology since the introduction of compact discs. It would be wonderful to be able to download the Beatles. It would be even better to hear them as they were meant to be heard.