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Million Dollar Trademark: Apple Corps vs. Apple Computers

by Shakeria Northcross, Esq.

Trademarking your business name and logo allows your business to grow. Imagine if Apple Corps, the holding company of Apple Records started by the Beatles, did not trademark its name before Apple Computers, started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, came along. Apple Corps would not be MILLIONS of dollars richer from its settlement and agreement with Apple Computers.

The purpose of Trademark law is to prevent consumers from being confused about the source of a product or service. So, when Apple Computers started playing music on its products, Apple Corps felt the need to protect its intellectual property, a.k.a its name, from being confused with “Apple Computers.” After about 30 years of dealing with expensive legal battles, the two companies finally reached a settlement that cost Apple Computers millions.

The “Apple” that we know and love today basically paid a pretty penny (well millions) to be able to expand and grow as a company, which is why it is also important to properly research a name before naming your business.

Valuable lessons from a fruit fight:

  1. Someone could start using your business’s name or logo to sell the same products/services as you, then they could trademark that name first and become its legal owner.

  2. Your business may be prevented from growing and obtaining value if it does not own the intellectual property (name and logo) it uses to make money.

  3. Be the first business in your industry to trademark your name so you can become the world’s most successful trillion-dollar company or sell your trademark for millions (both Apples are winning)!

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