Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Monday, 8 May 2006 12:51 UK

Q&A: Apple vs Apple

Record label Apple Corps, controlled by The Beatles, has lost a trademark dispute against technology giant Apple Computer.

Photograph of The Beatles with an apple
Apple Corps is owned by Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison
Q. What was the case about?

Apple Corps, set up by The Beatles in 1968, has the right to use the Apple name and logo for "any current or future creative works whose principal content is music and/or musical performances, regardless of the means by which those works are recorded or communicated".

But the iPod and iTunes - created by Apple Computer - breached that trademark deal, the record label claimed.

The label wanted Apple Computer to stick to computers and Apple Corps to stick to music, saying any crossover creates confusion.

Q. Why did the case fail?

The iPod and iTunes do not breach the trademark because they are merely ways of conveying music and nothing to do with the creation of the music itself, Mr Justice Edward Mann ruled at London's High Court.

Mr Justice Mann said iTunes was "a form of electronic shop" and the presence of the Apple Computer logo on the service did not suggest "a relevant connection with the creative work".

Q. What does the decision mean?

The main outcome is that Apple Computer will not have to remove its name and logo from iTunes and the iPod. The technology firm is able to carry on its business as usual. Unless their appeal succeeds, Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the families of John Lennon and George Harrison will have to live with it.

Apple Corps will also be able to carry on looking after The Beatles' music, but it will have to find an estimated 3m in legal costs. Its owners, however, are unlikely to find this a major problem.

Q. What about the wider implications for trademarks?

This is widely seen as a specific case and the ruling does not signal any major change in trademark law. The judge based his ruling on an agreement the two sides drew up in 1991.

Q. What is the history between these two companies?

The two sides have been wrangling over the use of the Apple name and logo for 25 years.

Their first deal, in 1981, meant Apple Computer must stick to computers.

But when it made its machines compatible with Musical Digital Interface (Midi) devices, Apple Corps took legal action that lasted two years and resulted in the less restrictive 1991 agreement.

It also resulted in a reported $30m (16.3m) payment to Apple Corps from the computer firm.

But the advance of technology and advent of music downloading meant these two giants came into conflict once more.

Beatles lose Apple court battle
08 May 06 |  Entertainment
At the core of the Apple dispute
08 Apr 04 |  Entertainment

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