08 May 2006

Apple Computer vs Apple Corp Result

This looks like a verdict of common sense. Well done to Justice Edward Mann who seems to have had a firm grasp of both the law (as expected) and technology (as not necessarily expected).

While we may never know the details here (the 1991 agreement does not seem to be spelt out anywhere) (Update: We DO know the details* and they're here if you're interested. Clause 4.3 is particularly relevant, and also check Definitions 1.2 ) it seems that Apple Computer were certainly able to do things with music as a result of that agreement. It would also seem that they have gone to quite extraordinary lengths to ensure the branding of the store is kept quite separate from Apple itself (which of course does hurt it to a degree). When coupled with the fact that Apple Corp were fully briefed on the iTMS before it commenced operation and did not object, I'm left with the view that this was a very opportunistic lawsuit launched when it became clear that Apple had a lot to lose if it went wrong. The fact that Apple clung on and fought it shows their faith in their own legal basis was well founded.

I hope the Beatles just put up and shut up. They have made sufficient money from Apple Computer already to finance the pensions of hundreds of people let alone those of their already very wealthy founders. It is hard to have sympathy for a company that appears to completely live on in the past appearing in the law courts every once in a while to show it still exists. It is also particularly ironic that they take the tactics of the Establishment that they so eschewed when they were actually a band making music in the 60's.

Whether Apple Computer's name is a tribute to the Beatles or was just a way to be ahead of Atari in the Bay Area Phonebook we may never know, but Apple Corp should embrace and enjoy the possibility (and kudos) it was the former, and show it is still relevant in the 21st Century (e.g. by creating digital versions).

UPDATE: Added link to legal agreement.
* This agreement indicates a payment of US$100,000 from Apple Computer to Apple Corps. I can see no other payments mentioned. Yet, the payment reported was supposed to be around $26m. So, can anyone clarify what was actually paid, and if higher than the $100k in the agreement what the amount paid was for in addition to the contract?

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