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Apple Corp Sues Over Beatle Wheelchair

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The public has been treated to some bizarre attempts on behalf of companies trying to capitalize on the Apple (AAPL) brand -- none possibly quite so head-scratching as the Chinese appliance manufacturer that tried to sell the iStove, before the product was seized last month by authorities.

Now, a Dutch mobility outfit called You-Q BV has endeavored to milk an association with the original pomaceous fruit company: Apple Corp, the multimedia conglomerate formed by the Beatles in 1968 and now co-owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison’s estate. Having absolutely no connection to the Fab Four, music in general, or -- even as a stretch -- the insect for which the band was named, didn’t stop You-Q from marketing the Beatle Wheelchair.  

Fortunately, a court did.

After challenged by Apple Corps, You-Q's application bid to trademark the word “Beatle” for use on its electric wheelchairs was struck down by European Union judges. The Luxembourg-based tribunal ruled a Beatle-brand chair “would take unfair advantage of the repute and the consistent selling power of Apple Corps' trademarks.”

Having battled unsuccessfully over four decades over trademark rights with the technology giant, Apple Corp can finally put a check in the “win” column. The company can now legally force You-Q to cease selling the wheelchair on its website.

The Beatles are “still synonymous with youth and a certain counter-culture of the 1960s, an image which is still positive and which could specifically benefit the goods covered by the mark applied for,” the court said. Not coincidentally, Baby Boomers, the very generation perhaps most susceptible to the Beatles brand, is the one currently in the market for mobility assistance.

So, as it turns out, the Beatles are not for sale. But who knows You-Q? Maybe a “Quarrymen” model is still up for grabs.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.