Business lawyers specialising in technology and intellectual property law, management and commercialisation

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Trade mark licence ends war

trade-mark-licenceApple Inc. is becoming the registered proprietor, and licensor back to The Beatles, of the Granny Smith record company logo, so far for sure in Canada.

This trade mark licence ends a trail of three decades of litigation cases over money between Apple, Inc and The Beatles. Lightbulb overviewed that story in 2011.

As a personal guess, Apple Inc. spent between $500 million and $1 billion over 30 years, to defend itself against The Beatles, for use of the Apple name and logo. 

These defences have been in three separate litigation cases and then a final legal settlement, peace treaty and trade marks licence. Apple has been paying to defend itself and to finally virtually buy out The Beatles both as regards the name APPLE and the the apple logo.

Mashable reports that:

"In March 2011, to ensure ownership of the logo, Apple filed for the Apple Corps logo trademark in Europe under 14 International Classifications covering, among other matters, computer hardware, online social networking services, mobile phones, musical instruments, games, clothing/headgear and advertising."

This followed on from Apple Inc.'s press release of 2007 which began with a statement about how trade mark licensing played a role in reaching a peace treaty:

"CUPERTINO, California and LONDON—Apple® Inc. and The Beatles' company Apple Corps Ltd. are pleased to announce the parties have entered into a new agreement concerning the use of the name "Apple" and apple logos which replaces their 1991 Agreement. Under this new agreement, Apple Inc. will own all of the trademarks related to "Apple" and will license certain of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for their continued use. In addition, the ongoing trademark lawsuit between the companies will end, with each party bearing its own legal costs, and Apple Inc. will continue using its name and logos on iTunes®. The terms of settlement are confidential."

trade-mark-licensingSince then Apple Computer, Inc. became simply Apple Inc. and now we have the clean up work for the Granny Smith apple logo used by Apple Corp Ltd (the record company of The Beatles).

Congratulations to the happy couple, who we've described in a longer Lightbulb article as Intellectual property frenemies.

There are many lesson in how to pick a name and logo for start-ups, new ventures and people who select brands and company, domain, business and product names. Read articles linked in yesterday's Lightbulb post, Legally strong trade marks save money. If you don't have the time, then call and we can discuss how you might avoid a name and logo mess yourself.


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