Back in 1968, when the Beatles first started using their apple logo, they could hardly have anticipated the current battle taking shape with Apple Computer. Since that time, the Beatles spun off the apple logo to Apple Corps Ltd., as the record distribution end of the business. Steve Jobs began using his own apple logo in 1976 when he founded Apple Computer. In 1981, Apple Corps sued Apple Computer for trademark infringement. The parties later settled for $80,000 settlement and a promise from Apple Computer that it would steer clear of the music business
In 1989, three years after Apple Computer added audio recording to its computers, Apple Corps sued again, and settled again, this time for an estimated $26.5 Million. . The settlement Agreement gave Apple Corps the right to use “Apple” on
“creative works whose principal content is music”, and gave
Apple Computer 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 September 2003 Apple Corps sued Apple Computer over the wildy popular iTunes and iPod asserting a violation of the 1991 Agreement. The trial begins tomorrow, at the High Court before Mr. Justice Mann, a justice well versed in music and computers and iPod owner of an iPod.
This case brings to the forefront the necessity of incorporating future technologies into present agreements. Although no one can predict the future, a skilled lawyer, versed in technology and intellectual property issues can make educated guesses about dividing up unforeseen markets. As Apple Corp and Apple Computers are finding out today, an ounce of anticipation can be worth tens of millions of dollars worth of cure. For information on how your company might benefit from anticipating future technology in present agreements, contact Brett Trout