Apple <3 Apple (and Super Ads)

Help! It's IT Blogwatch: in which Apple-as-in-iTunes and Apple-as-in-The-Beatles kiss and make up. Not to mention highlights of this year's Super Bowl ads...

Peter Sayer is the walrus:

Apple Inc., the computer and digital music company, has bought rights to all "Apple" trademarks from Apple Corps. Ltd., the record company set up by The Beatles, ending a long-running trademark dispute between the two. However, there was no word on whether Apple will soon begin selling The Beatles' music through its iTunes Store.

Last year the two companies took a dispute over the trademarks to court in London. Apple Corps. alleged that Apple, then called Apple Computer, had breached a 1991 agreement not to use its apple logo to sell music when it launched the iTunes Store ... Under the terms of Monday's deal, Apple will license the Apple name and the green apple logo back to Apple Corps. so that it can continue using them, the two announced Monday. The companies declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal.

Aunty Beeb gets back:

The dispute dates back to 1980, when the late George Harrison noticed an advert for Apple computers in a magazine. He felt there was potential for trademark conflict with Apple Corps - set up by The Beatles in 1968 to release their songs and manage their creative affairs ... The sides reached a deal in 1981 allowing Apple Computer to use the name as long as it stuck to computers, while The Beatles' company would continue in the entertainment field.

But as computers developed and their musical capabilities grew, the sides ended up in court in 1989, resulting in a new deal. They clashed again when Apple Inc launched the iTunes download store in 2003, with the record label claiming the computer firm had encroached on its territory again. That case ended up in court last year. Apple Corps lost, with a judge ruling that the iPod and iTunes did not breach their deal because they were merely ways of conveying music and nothing to do with the creation of the music itself.

Paul Miller wants to hold your hand:

Just how was this resolved? Both companies are going to be paying their own legal costs, and Apple Inc is walking home with the entire brand, with an apparent agreement to license certain trademarks back to Apple Corps. No wonder Steve was pleased. We'll keep our fingers crossed for some sort of iTunes deal, but obviously that oft-rumored Super Bowl ad spot opportunity has come and gone. Luckily, the word from Apple Corps ... hints at good things to come.

John Murrell feels fine:

This apparently smooths out the friction that has long worn on big-time Beatles fan Steve Jobs ... The big question is whether the deal came about because Jobs didn't want to add to the troubles of the very cranky Sir Paul or whether it's the last bit of brush-clearing ahead of the much-rumored, much-longed-for release of the Beatles catalog on iTunes. No one is talking -- at least no one who knows for sure ... The ever anticipatory British bookmakers are offering 10-1 odds that inside of a year, digital downloads will put the Beatles in every slot on the Top Ten.

Katie Marsal can work it out:

Apple's Jobs has been courting the British rock group -- arguably the most prestigious name to thus far escape the digital music download scene -- to join his iTunes revolution for some time. Speculation on the matter reached all-time highs last month, as news reports suggested the two parties were close to an arrangement that would give iTunes first shot at online distribution of Beatles songs, including a three-month exclusive that would begin with the release of the Beatles' Cirque du Soleil project, Love, on Valentine's day.

Though such a deal remains unconfirmed, many Apple and Beatles followers gained inspiration from the flagrant display of Beatles propaganda during Jobs' recent keynote address in San Francisco. An iTunes pact, they believe, may be just days away.

Anonymous McCartneyf came in through the bathroom window:

The Beatles catalog is in Northernsongs, which is de facto owned by Sony unless Michael Jackson starts getting some financial sense. (The financial advice he took from Paul appears to be the last sound financial advice he ever took.) Apple Corp. does own something valuable, though--the Beatles recordings.

To put it another way: if you wanted to record a cover of a Beatles song, or play one in public, you would need to contact Sony, Northernsongs division. If you wanted to use an actual Beatles recording--that is, one actually made by the Beatles--then you would need to contact Apple Corp.

WidescreenFreak is mean Mr. Mustard:

Why are people making such a big deal about the Beatles being available on iTunes? ... I buy music online that's not on iTunes lots of times! It's called a "compact disc"! Sure, it takes a few days for it to arrive, but when it gets here I can do whatever I want with it, including rip it to MP3 and put it on my MP3 player ... Yes, there are certain things where "instant gratification" is required, like insulin to a diabetic. But music is NOT an "instant gratification" requirement to survive! Is it really that hard to wait a few days for a CD to be shipped?

...

It's absolutely staggering to see that there are actually people out there who refuse to buy a physical disc anymore, and even more staggering to see people act as though iTunes is the only music repository available. Don't you think this whole iTunes thing is being taken a bit too far?

While TedTodorov's guitar gently weeps:

This is potentially huge, as Apple inc. now seems to own the trademark and will license it back to Apple Corps Ltd. Unless I am missing something, this means that Apple can sign bands directly, cutting out the record companies which collect 69 cents on every iTunes dollar.

As online music sales surpass physical media, this has the potential of allowing Apple to take over the record industry. I doubt they want to, but it gives them a great deal of opportunity to expand their iTunes business.

Good night, biglig2:

One of the interesting things about listening to [The Beatles] properly, is that your first thought is "this sounds so modern" and then your second thought is "ah, because everyone in the world has ripped them off!"

Buffer overflow:

Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch

And finally... Super Bowl XLI commercial highlights

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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