I read the news today, oh boy, about the ruling in the trademark dispute between The Beatles’ Apple Corps and Apple Computer. The Beatles’ business arm accused Apple of violating a 1991 agreement over the use of the Apple logo with music products—“We told you before, ‘You can’t do that,’ ” Apple Corps attorneys argued. But the British judge ordered the Beatles to let it be, giving Apple a ticket to ride with its lucrative online music business. Apple offered an olive branch of sorts to the Beatles— “We can work it out,” Steve Jobs seemed to suggest in a prepared statement. But Apple Corps isn’t quite ready to come together just yet, vowing to appeal the judge’s decision and continuing this case’s long and winding road …
Okay, those forced allusions to Beatles’ lyrics are even starting to make me cringe. Let’s regroup.
There are probably a few Mac users out there who are interested by the nuts and bolts of British trademark law. But for the rest of us the case of Apple v. Apple really boils down to two salient questions.
1) Will this case in any way affect my ability to get my hands on those 99-cent downloads to which I have become accustomed?
2) Will I be able to add Fab Four tunes to that list of aforementioned 99-cent downloads?
After Monday’s ruling, my guess is those answers are 1) apparently not and 2) probably not for now. Not that the iTunes Music Store was ever in any danger from shutting its virtual doors, but it’s a lot easier to carry on with business as usual if you don’t have to write sizable checks to Ringo, et. al. each month. As for the likelihood of Beatles songs popping up on the store, it’s true that Apple Corps has been busy preparing to release digital versions of Beatles songs. It’s also true Steve Jobs offered an invitation to the band to sell its wares on iTunes, and that when it comes to patching things up between aggrieved parties, you have to like the track record of a man who’s managed to smooth things over with Intel and Microsoft over the years. Still, I read quotes like this one from Apple Corps manager Neil Aspinall in Bloomberg’s report:
[Aspinall] said the court had reached the "wrong conclusion" and that the company would appeal. "We felt that during the course of the trial we clearly demonstrated just how extensively Apple Computer had broken the agreement.”
And that doesn’t sound to me like a guy who’s ready to bury the hatchet.
So it may be a while before we get up and dance to a song that was a hit before your mother was born. ( Ahem … sorry.) In the meantime, enjoy this selection of cover songs, either to celebrate Apple’s good fortune or to commiserate over Apple Corps’ new setback, depending on your point of view.