Apple lost a lawsuit filed by a jazz trumpeter, Charlie Bertini, who challenged the Cupertino giant’s entry, with its brand, into the live music sector. In fact, the musician registered the trademark “Apple Jazz” in 1985, with reference to live music.
The story began in 2015, when Apple decided to launch its streaming service under the brand “Apple Music”, covering different categories of music and entertainment services. Bertini had opposed the use of this trademark, arguing that the name would cause confusion with his “Apple Jazz”.
In 2021, the USPTO decided that the company founded by Steve Jobs was right, arguing that its brand was related to Apple Corps, a trademark registered by The Beatles in ‘68 (as well as the name of the company operating in the multimedia sector founded by the latter) and then merged into Apple well before 1985, the year of the filing of the musician’s “Apple Jazz” trademark.
In the second instance, however, the verdict was overturned: Apple cannot incorporate live performances into the product categories of its “Apple Music” brand, since this is a different category from audio recordings, for which the brand was originally recorded, and which at the time of filing did not include the live music sector.
«Tacking a mark for one good or service does not grant priority for every other good or service in the trademark application», said the Court, which also confirmed that Apple’s trademark could lead to confusion in consumers.
Bertini’s lawyers said they were satisfied with the decision, obtained after a «long and difficult struggle» which perhaps «will also help other small companies to protect their trademarks rights”.
To obtain the trademark, Steve Jobs’ Apple and The Beatles’ Apple Corps had reached a judicial settlement in 2007, after a ferocious battle, at the end of which they had divided the assignment of the trademark, and Apple had managed to unlock the rights to sell Beatles songs on iTunes. Steve Jobs, a great fan of the band, paid half a billion dollars to acquire the rights to the Apple Corps trademark.