Apple Corps, the Beatles' record company, has lost a trademark infringement court battle brought against Apple Computer.
Apple Corps, owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison, had accused the computer company of breaching the terms of a 1991 trademark agreement over the "apple" trademark. The label claimed that the computer maker's push into the digital music business with the iTunes Music Store violated the agreement.
In London's High Court today (May 8), Mr. Justice Edward Mann ruled that the computer firm used the apple logo in association with its store, not the music, and so was not a breach.
During the case, the Beatles' label sought both an injunction to enforce the 1991 agreement and monetary damages for the alleged contract breach.
Apple Computer argued in court hearings in London earlier this year that iTunes was primarily a data transmission service, permitted by the agreement. "We are glad to put this disagreement behind us," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a statement issued after the decision. An Apple Corps spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Jobs added, "We have always loved the Beatles, and hopefully we can now work together to get them on the iTunes Music Store."
Until now, the Beatles have held out making available their catalog for downloading. According to testimony given during the trial by Apple Corps managing director Neil Aspinall, the label is in the process of digitally re-mastering the entire Beatles catalog, which would pave the way for selling the tracks online.
The latest court case began when Apple Corps sued Apple Computer in September 2003. In April 2004, a London judge dismissed an application in which the computer maker argued that courts in California, not England, should deal with the full case.