Apple Computer Inc. avoided legal helter-skelter Monday when a British judge denied a request by a Beatles company to stop the computer maker from using an apple logo on its iTunes Music Store.
The company's silhouette of an apple with a bite taken out of it relates to its online store, not the music it sells, High Court Judge Anthony Mann said.
As a result, Apple Computer did not violate an agreement with Apple Corps Ltd. that restricts its use of the logo to technology. The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker successfully argued that using the logo to sell downloads didn't put it in the music business.
"The use of the apple logo ... does not suggest a relevant connection with the creative work," Mann said in his written ruling in a London court.
Apple Corps, which controls the Fab Four's vast library of songs, is owned by surviving band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with the estates of the late John Lennon and George Harrison.
The two companies have battled for years in court over the use of the apple logo, reaching agreements in 1981 and a decade later.
Under their agreements, Apple Corps could use its logo of a whole or cut green apple for music and performances, and Apple Computer was allowed to use its logo for computers and software.
"The core, if you will, of any trademark dispute is consumer confusion," said Brent Britton, a technology lawyer who deals in trademark law.