Forbidden Fruit: Apple, Inc.’s Battle Over the Apple Comes to a Close
Since 1987 when “Revolution” was first used in Nike’s landmark campaign, contrary to the expressed disapproval of the surviving members of The Beatles, the door to commodifying The Beatles image and construct of rebellion and dissent began. Fast-forward to a week ago where Apple, Inc., the developer of our favorite computers, tablets, and cell phones, filed for international rights over the granny smith green apple logo originally developed by The Beatles’ Apple Corps.
Culminating in over three decades of litigation, the history between Apple, Inc. and Apple Corps. began in 1978. Apple Corps, founded in 1968, was an innovative development by The Beatles which not only included a publishing division for their music, but also a film division, electronics division, recording studio, and retail stores. When Apple, Inc. first began making computers in 1978, Apple Corps. sued Apple, Inc. (then Apple Computers) over trademark infringement, and Apple, Inc. agreed to stay out of the music business. Since this initial agreement, Apple Corps. has sued Apple, Inc. several times over infringement of this agreement, resulting in millions of dollars in settlements. Finally, in 2007, Apple Inc. announced that the two companies had finally “come together” over this ongoing trademark dispute, most of its terms kept confidential, which included what later developed as the full release of The Beatles catalog on iTunes and the ownership of all Apple Corps trademarks.
This trademark application signifies the end of not only decades of litigation between the two Apples, but also any question as to the whether The Beatles image and catalog could be legally commodified. Not only is George Harrison’s concern that “every Beatles song ever recorded is going to be advertising women’s underwear and sausages” coming to fruitition fruition, but their image will be on the package.