By David Leishman
Apple Corps, Ltd. (ACL) and Apple Computer (AC) are adversaries in court this week. I hope when they finish the coming skirmish, I’ll never have to write that again.
ACL has sued AL twice before and won. Details are scant, but as a result of the first suit in 1981, “the two companies signed a secret pact giving Apple Computer the right to use the Apple name for computer products, but reserved for Applecorps the right to use it for music-related enterprises,”
reports Forbes. The second suit, filed in 1989, involved a breach of the initial agreement, which may have centered on either the Mac’s ability to function as a synthesizer or because it could output stereo sound.
I’m a full-fledged member of the IANAL (I am not a lawyer) group, but as a longtime Mac user and a longer-time Beatle listener, I’m struck by the attendant ironies surrounding the suit — starting with the rumor that Steve Jobs chose the name “Apple” for AC because of his fondness for the band and its music.
Both Apples have had legal battles with founding members. In 1970, Paul McCartney sued his fellow band members and ACL, in order to have an independent receiver run the group’s financial affairs. In 1985, AC sued Steve Jobs — calling him “wanton, willful, malicious and outrageous” — and alleged he stole employees and technology for his NeXT computer company startup.
In 1967, the band opened the Apple Boutique, a “beautiful place where you could buy beautiful things,” including music, clothes and electronics. In 1968, the Beatles Co. changed its name to ACL, with an Apple Electronics division, and established the Zapple label for spoken-word recordings — the precursor of “audio books.” AC in 2001 opened the first Apple Store and sold its first iPod, and opened the iTunes Music Store last year.
Both companies have lost some control over what we might consider their “crown jewels.” The publishing rights to most of the Beatles music belong to Michael Jackson, who outbid MaCartney and others for the catalog. AC lost its “look and feel” interface infringement suit against Microsoft, which cleared the path for Windows. Nowadays, both companies strongly protect their intellectual properties, down to suing, or issuing injunctions against, fans for running Web sites that display or offer copyrighted materials.
Given this common sensitivity to proprietary interests, a Beatles legal insider asked during an
interview with Fox News, “What could they be thinking? They knew we had the agreement, and that we’d won a lot of money from them already.”
Well, the answer is that the last agreement between the companies was signed long before the advent of the Web, let alone downloaded music, and six years before Steve Jobs returned to AC. This is an opportunity for the Apples to codify a new relationship — one that is forward-looking and profitable for both. Discussing the suit, Jobs acknowledges, “We love the Beatles.” Hopefully in the end, the love they both take will be equal to the love they make.
Apple due in London court to contest Beatles lawsuit
Apple is expected back in London’s High Court on Wednesday to contest a lawsuit brought forth by Apple Corps Ltd. (ACL), the company owned by the members of the Beatles and their families. ACL claims that Apple’s iTunes Music Store service breaches a 1991 agreement that forbade the computer company from using its trademark for any works “whose principal content is music and, or performances.”
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Tokyo museum begins iPod audio guide service
The Mori Art Museum — one of Tokyo’s newest cultural attractions — has begun an audio guide service using Apple’s iPods. Visitors to the museum can borrow for no charge one of 20 iPods and listen to an audio guide of a current exhibition, which includes interviews with the creators and artists behind some of the pieces of art on display. (A reader’s post on MacCentral includes
details on a “Museum Mode”
that can be activated on iPods.)
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Around the Web
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High-end audio production is the specialty of Mix magazine, and they recently subjected a Power Mac G5 to a series of grueling tests to see how it stood up under pressure during live performance. They loaded it with Logic Platinum 6.3, heaps of virtual instrument plug-ins and sample libraries, instructed it to handle the lighting board, and went in search of the limits of the G5.
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