Beatles and Apple settle legal fight over logo

A 25-year dispute between the Beatles and Apple computer company over the use of the apple logo was settled yesterday at the doors of the Court of Appeal in London.

The agreement between the makers of the iPod and the two surviving Beatles, as well as John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and the estate of George Harrison, could pave the way for the Beatles' back catalogue to be released on the internet.

In the latest round of a dispute that had its first airing in 1981, the two sides went to court over a 1991 trademark deal. The Beatles said Apple Inc had breached the agreement by breaking into the music business through the introduction of iTunes, which displayed the apple logo. Apple Corps, the guardian of the Beatles music, wanted the High Court to award damages and stop the US company using the logo in music operations.

But, in May last year, a judge ruled the computer company used the logo in association with its store, not the music, and so was not in breach of the agreement.

Mr Justice Mann ruled that Apple Inc had not "crossed the line" with downloads. He said it was all a matter of interpretation as to whether the music store was selling recordings or transmitting data.

It was his view that the service was not being used to sell the music but the software. Apple Corps, facing a legal bill of up to £3m, vowed to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

Yesterday, the two sides agreed to end the dispute.

The two companies, who agreed to pay their own legal bills before the appeal, due to start this month, said Apple Inc would now own all trademarks related to "Apple" and would license certain trademarks back to Apple Corps. "We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks," Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, said.

Neil Aspinall, the manager of Apple Corps, said it was great to put the dispute behind them and move on. "The years ahead are going to be very exciting times for us. We wish Apple Inc every success and look forward to many years of peaceful co-operation with them."

In the court case last year Apple had argued iTunes was primarily a data transmission service and permitted by the agreement.

The Beatles are the most high profile group to have withheld their music from internet music services such as iTunes. But now the dispute has been ended, the music of the group may well be released online, leading some observers to predict the Fab Four could be top of the charts once again.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power