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Apple Inc. and Apple Corps Enter New Agreement

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Apple Inc. and Apple Corps today announced a new agreement under which Apple Inc. will own all the trademarks related to "Apple" and will license some of those trademarks back to Apple Corps. This agreement replaces the 1991 agreement in which Apple Corps agreed to let Apple Inc. use Apple Corps' trademarks even on items falling within Apple Corps' field of use (entertainment) so long as Apple Inc. didn't sell "physical media delivering pre-recorded content." (For a detailed look at the history of the companies' relations, see Geoff Duncan's "Carry That Weight: Apple Versus Apple," 2006-03-27.) The agreement also marks an end to the ongoing trademark infringement case in which Apple Corps sued Apple Inc.; Apple Corps lost the case but immediately appealed the decision. Both companies will bear their own legal costs, and Apple Inc. will continue using its name and logo on iTunes. (Again, for details, see Geoff's "Not Guilty: Apple Beats Beatles Trademark Dispute," 2006-05-08.) Terms of the new agreement remain confidential.

Still up in the air is whether the Beatles' music will ever appear for sale in the iTunes Store. A handful of subtle references to the Beatles in Steve Jobs's keynote at the recent Macworld Expo in January 2007 had many thinking such an announcement was forthcoming. However, in words that don't exactly scream "let's make a deal," Neil Aspinall, manager of Apple Corps said in the announcement, "We wish Apple Inc. every success and look forward to many years of peaceful co-operation with them." According to the research firm NPD Group, the Beatles' music is among the most frequently downloaded from peer-to-peer file sharing services.

 

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