Thursday, April 13, 2006

(Insert Beatles "Revolution" Reference Here)

In their day, the Beatles were the trendsetters and on the cutting edge but were also a corporation intent on protecting it's trademark. Part of that trademark was Apple Records, the label started by the Beatles mostly for tax purposes. The band released their last few albums on the Apple label as well as other notable works like James Taylor's first album. A few years later, the Beatles broke up but Apple Corps remained. Shortly after that, along came Apple Computers and an inevitable lawsuit. The lawsuit was settled in 1981 in an agreement that Apple Computer would never get into the music business.

In a second lawsuit, Apple Corps sued Apple Computers in 1991 when they introduced sound capability to their computers. This seems like a lot of legal wrangling but Apple Computers settled again. Finally in 2003, Steve Jobs basically thumbed his nose at the Beatles and unveiled the iTunes music store and the soon-to-be ubiquitous iPod. The arguments have been made and the decision will be handed down in the next few weeks. No one knows what the result will be but speculation is running wild.

Some predict the suit could result in Apple Corps becoming a major shareholder in Apple Computer, possibly with Paul McCartney as a board member.

Another possibility is that the court will order Apple Computer to remove its trademark from iTunes and iPods and set up a new company to sell them. Apple is already preparing for that.

Adding fuel to the fire are statements by Neil Aspinall, former road manager for the Beatles and current director of Apple Corps. He has hinted that the entire Beatles catalog is being remastered in preparation for potential online sales. Due to concerns about royalties and the ongoing dispute with Apple Computer, not a single Beatles song is available on iTunes or any other digital music store. And that's just a travesty.

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