September 12, 2003 11:52 AM PDT

Beatles group sues Apple over trademark

A representative for Apple Corps, the corporate face of rock icons The Beatles, said Friday that the company has sued Apple Computer over its iTunes service, in a sequel to a previous trademark dispute.

Geoff Baker, spokesman for Apple Corps, confirmed the suit was filed two months ago in London High Court. He referred further questions to a statement put out by Apple Corps, the company the legendary rock band formed in 1968 to manage its business interests.

"Specifically, (the) complaint is made over the use by Apple Computer of the word 'Apple' and apple logos in conjunction with its new application for downloading pre-recorded music from the Internet," said the statement, apparently referring to Apple's successful iTunes Music Store service for downloading digital songs

Apple Corps previously tussled with Apple Computer over trademark issues in 1989, claiming that the computer company was illegally using the band's name and logo to sell music-related products, such as digital music software. Apple Computer settled the case for $27 million and an agreement that generally precluded Apple Computer from entering the music business.

The two Apples appeared to be getting along OK since then, as evidenced by iMac ads featuring John Lennon.

But Apple has recently jumped into the music business in a big way, both with iTunes and its iPod digital music players.

Apple Computer issued a brief statement on the case: "Over a decade ago, Apple signed an agreement with Apple Corps, a business controlled by the Beatles and their heirs, which specified the rights each company would have to use the 'Apple' trademark. Unfortunately, Apple and Apple Corps now have differing interpretations of this agreement and will need to ask a court to resolve this dispute."

Apple Computer launched the iTunes service in late April, and it has quickly become one of the most popular conduits for legal music downloads, selling more than 1 million songs in its first week of operation and attracting numerous imitators.

 

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