RealTime IT News

Apple Inc. Settles with Apple Corps Ltd.

Onlookers could have mistaken today's trademark settlement between Apple Inc. and Apple Corps. Ltd., the Beatles' recording company, as a sixties love-fest.

The agreement ensuring Apple Inc. can continue using the "Apple" name and logo with its iTunes store revived the oft-asked question: can the Beatles songs be far behind?

Under the agreement, Apple Inc. owns all the "Apple" trademarks and will license certain trademarks to Apple Corps. The pact ends the ongoing trademark lawsuit between the companies and each company will pay their own legal costs.

"The key is that Apple Inc. gets to use its name on music-related products with the approval of Apple Corps," Gartner analyst Michael McGuire told internetnews.com.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Although no specific mention was made about any agreement to include Beatles songs in iTunes, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the legal disagreement with the iconic music name hurt.

"We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks." Jobs said the agreement removes potential further arguments with Apple Corp., owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and George Harrison's estate.

Neil Aspinall, Apple Corps' general manager, said the company was happy to end the legal wrangling and expected "very exciting times for us." The UK recording firm pointed to future "peaceful cooperation" with Apple Inc.

The announcement followed last month's split dismissal by a London judge. The ruling held Apple Corps had exclusive rights to use the "Apple" logo for recorded music, but maintained Apple Inc.'s use of the logo with iTunes didn't violate those exclusive rights.

Today's settlement replaces a 1991 trademark agreement between the two companies. In that pact, Apple Corps was given the right to use "Apple" for music and Apple Inc. would use the logo for computers and software.

Still unclear is whether the agreement moves Beatles recordings closer to appearing on iTunes. "Gaining access to the Beatles music is the holy grail of digital music," Yankee Group analyst Mike Goodman, told internetnews.com.

Goodman called the Beatles latecomers to digital music. While the name two or three years ago could have lent considerable clout to the music concept, the area is now worth $800 million.

Key to whether the Beatles go digital is their confidence with digital music distribution. The musicians worry about fans trading the songs without paying.

Although Apple put one trademark settlement behind it, Cisco is still disputing the Apple's use of the iPhone for its new handset. Cisco sued Apple over the iPhone trademark, contending it owns the mark used for its Linksys line of VoIP phones.

Cisco said it bought the iPhone trademark in 2000 when it acquired InfoGear. The networking giant said it offered to share the trademark with Apple and then talks broke down. Apple responded, describing Cisco's trademark as "silly" and tenuous.

That gulf between the sides made news surprising the companies had decided to return to the bargaining table. Cisco said it and Apple had agreed to extend the time for Apple to respond to the lawsuit.

Apple has until Feb. 15 to settle, Cisco spokesperson John Noh told internetnews.com. Apple refused comment beyond its earlier statement.