Inside Move: Beatles’ suit could upset the Apple cart

Battle of the Apple cores

LONDON — Beatles fan Steve Jobs could lose a large bite of his Apple to his idols.

The Beatles’ company, Apple Corps., is involved in a legal battle with Jobs’ Apple Computer, claiming the hardware manufacturer is in breach of a 1991 agreement that that forbids it from using the trademark for any application “whose principle content is music.” The two companies have been involved in a number of court battles over the years involving the use of the Apple trademark.

Word among the legal community is that an out of court settlement could be imminent and that it will massively dwarf the $26.5 million paid to the Fab Four’s company in 1991 in a row over trademark use.

One lawyer told Daily Variety, “People are expecting this to be the biggest settlement anywhere in legal history, outside of a class action suit. The numbers could be mind boggling.”

Earlier this year, the computer company failed in a bid to have the latest case heard in the United States, when a judge in London’s High Court in London granted jurisdiction in the U.K.

The litigation is seen as one of the main reasons behind Apple Corps. preventing the Beatles catalog of songs being made available on the computer company’s iTunes song store.

Some speculation suggests the settlement could see Apple Corps. becoming a major shareholder in the computer company, with Paul McCartney maybe even becoming a board member.

Lord Grabiner and Daniel Toledano are acting for Apple Computer, while Geoffrey Vos and Daniel Alexander are representing Apple Corps.

Despite splitting in 1970, the Beatles interests are still administered by Apple Corps., which is owned by McCartney, Ringo Starr and the families of John Lennon and George Harrison.

An Apple Computer rep declined to comment on the pending litigation and pointed to an earlier statement that said the two companies have “differeing interpretations” of the agreement.

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