Apple Computer trademark litigation: lesson for small business startups

30 Mar 2006

Joel Welsh

Joel Welsh, Chief Community Officer, is also the CEO of a new startup company ... Showcase U. Joel shares behind the scenes key decisions being made in the "Birth of a Startup" and knocks it out of the park to provide his own entrepreneurial wisdom.

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Pay attention to the details when you’re starting your small business. It will pay off handsomely when you grow your business into one that people notice.

Apple Computer is learning that the hard way right now. Apple’s iTunes is battling with Apple Corps, the music company set up by The Beatles (yes, THOSE Beatles) in 1968 over use of their logo, according to this article that is all over the internet, including this page.

Apple Corps (music, Beatles) says that Apple Computer (Steve Jobs, slick-looking iPods) is infringing on a 1991 trademark agreement that the computer-maker would steer clear of the record business. They claim that Apple’s iTunes Music Store is the culprit.

You see, Apple Computer (Macintosh, Silicon Valley) says that their iTunes Music Store isn’t in the record business (who owns records anymore anyhow?) but that it’s an electronic data processing device. Apple Corps (John, Paul, Ringo, George) counters by quoting Steve Jobs as saying that downloading music from the Internet now was exactly the same as buying an LP in the era of vinyl. (Yikes, careful what you say)

See, it’s all really quite clear.

Now, if Apple (the non-record company) had only come up with their own totally unique logo way back when they were still in a garage dreaming up really cool technology products, then Apple (the record company) wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

Today’s lesson for business startups: Create your key assets and protect them early. Before anyone even knows who you are.

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