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ATPM 9.10
October 2003





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The Candy Apple

by Ellyn Ritterskamp,

How Do You Like Them Apples?

In a London court on July 4, Apple Corps Ltd. filed suit against Apple Computer Inc. The suit claims that the computer company breached a 1991 contract, and asks for monetary damages. They say that when Steve Jobs named the company way back then, he did so as a tribute to the Beatles and Apple records. Those filing suit say that the agreement included Jobs’ promise that Apple Computers would stay out of the music business. I believe them; it’s Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and the estate of George Harrison. I also believe that this should not and will not get ugly, in the legal sense. They have a point, in that now that Apple Computer is selling music with the iTunes Music Store, perhaps consumers will get them muddled up in their heads.

Of course few consumers today would do so, because we are aware of the history of the two companies. The problem is that if we don’t resolve it, future consumers might not understand that the two entities are unrelated. If I were a businessperson involved in the negotiations, I’d suggest that Apple Corps consider an arrangement with Apple Computer such that we could indeed purchase Beatles music via download. Everybody wins, except that maybe the music people think their brand name has been diluted. Whatever the result, I hope it is settled calmly and without rancor.

This whole thing raises a delicate issue, though: what if we get mixed up any time we see or hear the word “apple”? Do we need more lawsuits to straighten these out?

I suppose that’s enough. I don’t want to upset the apple cart anymore than Steve already has. The apple never falls far from the tree, and one bad apple spoils the bunch.

If you want to have a picnic and listen to some music: remember, don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me. I won’t tell.

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