Onlookers could have mistaken yesterday’s trademark settlement between
Apple Inc. (Quote) and Apple Corps. Ltd., the Beatles’
recording company, as a sixties love-fest.
The agreement ensuring Apple Inc. can continue using the “Apple”
name and logo with its iTunes store revived the oft-asked question:
can the Beatles songs be far behind?
Under the agreement, Apple Inc. owns all the “Apple” trademarks and
will license certain trademarks to Apple Corps. The pact ends the
ongoing trademark lawsuit between the companies and each company will
pay their own legal costs.
“The key is that Apple Inc. gets to use its name on music-related
products with the approval of Apple Corps,” Gartner analyst Michael
McGuire told internetnews.com.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Although no specific mention was made about any agreement to include
Beatles songs in iTunes, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the legal
disagreement with the iconic music name hurt.
“We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with
them over these trademarks.” Jobs said the agreement removes
potential further arguments with Apple Corp., owned by Paul
McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and George Harrison’s estate.
Neil Aspinall, Apple Corps’ general manager, said the company was
happy to end the legal wrangling and expected “very exciting times
for us.” The UK recording firm pointed to future “peaceful
cooperation” with Apple Inc.
The announcement followed last month’s split dismissal by a London
judge. The ruling held Apple Corps had exclusive rights to use the
“Apple” logo for recorded music, but maintained Apple Inc.’s use
of the logo with iTunes didn’t violate those exclusive rights.
Today’s settlement replaces a 1991 trademark agreement between the
two companies. In that pact, Apple Corps was given the right to use
“Apple” for music and Apple Inc. would use the logo for computers
Still unclear is whether the agreement moves Beatles recordings
closer to appearing on iTunes. “Gaining access to the Beatles music
is the holy grail of digital music,” Yankee Group analyst Mike
Goodman, told internetnews.com.
Goodman called the Beatles latecomers to digital music. While the
name two or three years ago could have lent considerable clout to the
music concept, the area is now worth $800 million.
Key to whether the Beatles go digital is their confidence with
digital music distribution. The musicians worry about fans trading
the songs without paying.
Although Apple put one trademark settlement behind it, Cisco (Quote) is still disputing the Apple’s use of the iPhone for its new handset. Cisco sued Apple
over the iPhone trademark, contending it owns the mark used for its
Linksys line of VoIP phones.