May 8, 2018

You Can't Do That: says judge in Beatles trade mark dispute

Apple Corps (a music company founded to look after the interests of the Beatles and no relation of Apple Inc,) has won a permanent injunction against counterfeiters who were profiting from the online sale of Beatles-branded merchandise.

Apple Corps won the injunction at the conclusion of its trademark infringement claim.

District Judge Ursula Ungaro has ordered the sellers of the counterfeit goods (which were mostly t-shirts and bags displaying 'the Beatles' or 'Yellow Submarine' branding) to pay $1m in damages. The interesting part of the order is that it includes items binding on the selling platforms: it orders them to disable the infringers access to the platform, and to release any funds held from accrued sales by the infringers to Apple Corps in partial satisfaction of the judgment.

Apple Corp's claim was wide in scope: also accusing the defendants of using the infringing goods to add legitimacy to their platforms to foster the sale of other, non-infringing, goods such as bags and accessories.

The sum of the damages may be explained by the stature of the marks. Part of the claim was that "…the Beatles marks are among the most widely recognised trademarks in the US…". The Beatles fame is no doubt a factor in the standing of the marks in the US, and Apple Corps has a long history of tenaciously defending the intellectual property associated with the band.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or

in: EU/International, News, Trade Marks

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