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Corps Calls Apple Rotten

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Another lawsuit over the Apple name between the Beatles’ Apple Corps business and Apple Computer focuses on the iTunes Music Store and millions of dollars.

The Times Online reported how the seemingly endless litigation between the surviving Beatles and Steve Jobs has been turned up again.

This time, the 28-year-old dispute centers on iTunes. Apple Computer has paid off Apple Corps over promises to stay out of the music business. As part of a 1991 settlement, Apple the computer company paid $26 million to Apple Corps.

Then along came the iPod and iTunes. Times Online noted how the 1991 agreement focused on Apple Computer not delivering music on physical media.

Since the launch of the iPod and iTunes three years ago, Apple Computer has sold millions of iPods and over a billion songs. The article noted that Apple Computer would likely characterize the music sales as data transmission. PaidContent.org commented on that strategy:

Anyone with an iPod full of songs purchased on iTunes might think they’ve actually downloaded the equivalent of physical copies. But Apple’s defense for a lawsuit brought by the first Apple — the Beatles’ music publisher/record label Beatles — says all it provides is digital data transmission that doesn’t contravene a 1991 settlement about selling music in physical form.

The Beatles’ Apple Corps claims that the younger company is breaching a 1991 agreement that it would not sell music using the Apple trademark. Apple Computer says the agreement allows the sale of online data transfers, which would include digital music downloads.


As with all things Apple, the controversy has stirred up commentary from other quarters. The Unofficial Apple Weblog contended Apple Corps loses out a lot more than it gains from its reticence to make Beatles music available online:

Every day that Beatles music isn’t available for sale on the iTunes Music Store is a day that you lose. Get a clue and release your substantial and popular music library to the iTunes Music Store and stop beating that dead legal horse. Few, if any, of your customers care about the name of your record label or that it’s similar to the name of a popular computer company.


Meanwhile, IP Democracy’s Cynthia Brumfield sees this legal battle ending in a predictable manner:

While kind of fun to watch, this most recent case will probably be resolved in the same manner as all the other suits – with Apple Computer ponying up a pile of cash for Apple Corps.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Corps Calls Apple Rotten
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