A High Court judge is due to rule Monday in the legal fight between Apple Computer and the Beatles' Apple Corps record label over the use of the apple logo.
Apple Corps Ltd. is suing Apple Computer Inc., claiming that the U.S.-based computer company has broken a 1991 agreement in which each agreed not to enter into the other's field of business.
The British company, started by the Beatles in 1968, argues that Apple Computer has infringed its territory by entering the music business and is seeking to force Apple Computer to drop its apple logo from the iTunes Music Store and pay unspecified damages.Apple Computer claims that the 1991 agreement allows it to use the logo because it does not own the rights to the music, but simply the digital technology to distribute it.
Lawyers for the U.S.-based company told Judge Edward Mann during the High Court hearing last month that it was conducting its business legally and that music lovers are smart enough to tell the difference between the use of the apple logos.
Apple Corps uses a shiny green apple as its logo, while Apple Computer has a cartoon-like apple with a neat bite taken out.
Lawyers for each side tussled during the hearing over advertisements featuring musical acts U2, Eminem and Coldplay for iTunes using the logo and Mann confessed early on that he owned an iPod.
The 1991 agreement ended previous lengthy litigation over the logo. Apple Computer told the court that the computer company paid the Fab Four's firm US$26.5 million as part of the 1991 out-of-court settlement, and in return had received "a considerably expanded field of use." The terms of the deal were kept confidential at the time.
Apple Corps was started by the Beatles in 1968 and is still owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, the widow of John Lennon and the estate of George Harrison.
Cupertino, California-based Apple Computer was formed in 1976, when college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak filed partnership papers on April Fools' Day.
Their ubiquitous iPods first came out in October 2001 and the iTunes music store first opened for business in the United States in April 2003; it is now available across Europe, in Australia, Japan, and Canada.
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