TDIM - Apple Computers Settled a Lawsuit launched by The Beatles - 11th Oct
October 11, 2013 @ 07:21 am
Apple Computers Settled a Lawsuit launched by The Beatles
Between the years 1978 to 2006 there were a number of legal disputes between Apple Corps owned by The Beatles and the computer manufacturer Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) over competing trademark rights. The High Court of Justice handed down a judgement on 8 May 2006 in favor of Apple Computer, but the companies did not announce a final settlement until 5 February 2007. Digging deeper into the story, we find out that in 1978, Apple Corps, the Beatles founded holding company and owner of their record label, Apple Records, filed a lawsuit against Apple Computer for trademark infringement.
The suit was settled in 1981 with an undisclosed amount being paid to Apple Corps. This amount had been estimated to be US$50–250 million, but was later revealed to be $80,000. As a condition of the settlement, Apple Computer agreed not to enter the music business, and Apple Corps agreed not to enter the computer business. But later around 1986, Apple Computer added MIDI and audio-recording capabilities to its computers, which included putting the advanced Ensoniq 5503 DOC sound chip from famous synthesizer maker Ensoniq into the Apple IIGS computer. In 1989, this led Apple Corps to sue again, claiming violation of the 1981 settlement agreement. The outcome of this litigation effectively spelled the end of any further development of the highly profitable Apple II line, all forays at the time by Apple Computer into the multimedia field in parallel with the Amiga, and any future advanced built-in musical hardware in the Macintosh line.
However In 1991, another settlement involving payment of around $26.5 million to Apple Corps was reached. This time, an Apple employee named Jim Reekes had included a sampled system sound called Chimes to the Macintosh operating system (the sound was later renamed to sosumi, to be read phonetically as "so sue me"). Outlined in the settlement were each company's respective trademark rights to the term "Apple". Apple Corps held the right to use Apple on any "creative works whose principal content is music", while Apple Computer held the right to use Apple on "goods or services ... used to reproduce, run, play or otherwise deliver such content", but not on content distributed on physical media. In other words, Apple Computer agreed that it would not package, sell or distribute physical music materials.
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