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Intellectual Property Law

: IP Blawg

Court Gives Beatles No "Help" In Apple vs. Apple

By Farella Braun + Martel LLP

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A court in England decided this week to ?Let it Be,? rejecting a suit by Apple Corps Ltd. against Apple Computer Inc. claiming that Apple Computer?s iPod product and iTunes service breach a settlement agreement entered into by the parties 15 years ago to resolve prior trademark litigation, thereby infringing Apple Corp's trademark. As we reported previously, in its original suit, Apple Corps, the Beatles? licensing company, accused Apple Computer of infringing its trademark.

In the 1991 settlement agreement, Apple Computer paid Apple Corps $26 million and was allowed to continue using the ?apple? trademark on ?goods or services . . . used to reproduce, run, play or otherwise deliver? content that included music, but not as to actual content distributed on physical media. The parties lived in relative peace until 2003, when Apple Corps again sued Apple Computer, this time contending that the use of the ?apple? logo by Apple Computer in connection with downloading pre-recorded music from the Internet fell within the activities prohibited by the 1991 settlement agreement.

After a well-publicized trial in London, the Court ruled in favor of Apple Computer on all issues. The court held that ?The use of the apple logo is a fair and reasonable use of the market in connection with the service which does not further and (unfairly or unreasonably) suggest an additional association with the creative works themselves.? To make matters worse, Apple Corps may be on the hook for Apple Computer?s legal fees, which reportedly exceed $2.8 million. Apple Corps has not yet stated whether it intends to appeal.

It truly has been a ?Hard Day?s Night? for Apple Corp. Is it just another ?Day in the Life??

Today's Blogger:  Bob Sloss

Full post as published by IP Blawg on May 09, 2006 (boomark / email).

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