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Hot off the Press - News & Commentary
by Keith Benicek, Editor

The Beatles will be suing Apple Computer, again.
September 11th, 2003

Get Back -
The year was 1981 and Apple’s Steve Jobs had already been admonished legally that Apple Corps, Ltd, the parent and music company founded by the Beatles, for using the Apple name. The Beatles are famous for being very protective of their Registered Trademarked name and have sued many over the very slightest rights infringement. Jobs and Apple were made to sign an agreement to NEVER go into the music business, of any kind.

The two companies walked away from that near fatal discourse with Apple Corp believing that they had a good understanding with Steve Jobs and Apple Computer Inc. The Fab Four really didn’t expect that there would be any further problems from Apple Computer and probably not expecting the company to grow from the little seed it was then, to a one time market leader.

Yesterday -
You should know that Steve Jobs in fact named his and Steve Wozniak’s fledgling computer company after the Beatles record label company Apple, because he was such a rabid Beatles fan. Jobs really should have known this would come back to haunt him in later years.

Then, for whatever poorly counseled reason, Apple Computer started producing music files and software titles in the mid-1980s. As anyone would expect, the Beatles company pounced on Apple Computer and Steve Jobs in a lawsuit charging breach of a trademark agreement, which cost Apple Computer over US$26 million dollars and another stipulation in 1991 that they again promised to not go into any more music business. It’s believed by analysts at the Fox News service that Apple has paid as much as US$50 Million Dollars total in lost law suits over this.

At the time, I was working for EMI England (one of Britons and Europe’s largest electronics and music company) in the mid-80’s and well remember the brewing mess that Apple Computer was creating and the fervor in England over the upstart California computer company. We all thought to ourselves then, “what the hell could Steve Jobs be thinking?”

Love Me Do -
There’s a big reason that the Beatles and Apple Corp Ltd. remains as defensive as ever, and that is because they’re still making tons of money. After all, their music transcendends four generations now and even today’s teens are buying Beatles re-release’s, including the highly popular/profitable Beatles Anthology Album. People just still love the Beatles, they do.

There was also the recent reissue of A Hard Day's Night on DVD and Apple Records will

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reissue Let it Be on DVD and on a remixed CD this fall. All are expected by the music industry analysts to make a fortune for Apple Corps. Also expected are the releases of the “lost” Get Back album and the Shea Stadium Live album.

However, the Beatles have not permitted any access of their music via any legal downloading service. You won’t find the Beatles in the Apple iTunes Music store either. They have always been wary of new technology as to its affects on royalties. Apple Corps British law firm, Eversheds, says "There's no particular reason the Beatles aren't in iTunes. They're not on any service." I should be noted that the Rolling Stones have refused to allow any of their song to be in any download music service as well.

Do You Want To Know A Secret -
Well, it’s no secret that since the release of the highly successful iPod and the rumored Apple instigated PR charade of buying Vivendi just before the announcement of the Apple iTunes Store Music Service, that Steve Jobs wants to get very much into the music business and buy a major record label.

Apple computers aren’t selling well at all. Their market share according to market research firms like Gartner Dataquest and IDC, is down to 2.3% from a high of 4.6% just two years ago. Apple is making far more income on products like the iPod, which now transcends into the Windows platform and the Apple iTunes Music Service.

It was just reported that Apple’s Music Store has sold their 10 Millionth song online. The brand recognition for the “Apple iPod” extends worldwide, with a recent survey showing that the iPod has better brand recognition that even Pepsi.

Anyone attending many MacWorld Conference Keynote speeches by Steve Jobs, knows that he likes to play Beatle tunes when demonstrating the latest iPod versions and also for the iTunes software. Is this intended to be a defiant swipe at Apple Corp Ltd and the Beatles? If it was, it was't very smart, or it was very arrogant.

Don't Let Me Down -
A Beatles legal confidant said “When it first happened with the iPod, we said, "What could they be thinking?" in reference to the announcement of the iPod MP3 Music Device from "AppleMusic". “These were among the most egregious violations.” "They knew we had the agreement, and that we'd won a lot of money from them already." It filed suit on July 4th, about a month after Apple Computer launched its iTunes Music Store.

It’s well known in England apparently, that Apple Corps which operates in secrecy, has been "in meetings" as the Apple Computer story continues to stir in the newspapers and broadcast media.

Happiness Is AWarm Gun -
Nick Valner, the Beatles' and Apple Corp Ltd. attorney at Eversheds, does not hesitate to move against infringers of the Beatle trademark and neither do the other Beatle lawyers. "They are very vigilant about pursuing these things." Apple Records was there first company founded and therefore clearly had the naming rights.

Apple Computers is in violation of a contract and the Beatles have every right to sue them. That’s the sentiment by many in the legal profession and in the music industry. We’ll just have to see just how much the Beatles believe in “You Can’t Do That” and “Fixing A Hole” in trademark infringements or agreements.



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