LET IT BE: Apple Settles with Beatles

Christopher McDavid

The Beatles may finally be coming to a computer near you after the Fab Four and Steve Jobs decided to give peace a chance in early February, ending a 26-year recurring trademark dispute.  Apple Corps, the legendary band’s business corporation, first sued Jobs’ Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) in 1978 alleging trademark infringement because of both the Apple name and logo.  That suit was settled quickly for $80,000 and a pledge that Jobs would not enter the music market.

When Apple Inc. started shipping computers with MIDI music player software, Apple Corps claimed breach in 1991, eventually settling for $26.5 million.  The world’s most popular music download store, Apple’s iTunes, prompted a 2003 suit claiming breach of the 1991 agreement.  Jobs, a rampant Beatles fan, is thought to have paid between $50 million and $100 million this go-round to finally purchase the rights to the name and logo.  Apple Inc. will license certain trademarks back to Apple Corps for their limited use in an agreement to replace the 1991 contract.

EMI, the record label home of the Beatles, recently denied rumors of the impending release of the Beatles catalog online, as well as persistent rumors that the catalog will be marketed pre-loaded onto Apple’s popular iPod music player.  It is thought by industry experts, however, that it is a simple matter of time before the Beatles join most other major artists by selling their music online.