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U.S. appeals court blocks Apple Music trademark application

Photo: Apple

On Tuesday, a U.S. appeals court decided for a jazz artist who opposed Apple Inc.’s “Apple Music” trademark application.

Apple’s claim that it had an earlier trademark from the Beatles’ music business Apple Corps Ltd. gave them precedence over trumpeter Charlie Bertini’s “Apple Jazz” trademark rights was rejected by the Federal Circuit.

Bertini’s request to prohibit Apple’s federal Apple Music trademark for live concerts and other trademark uses was granted.

James Bertini, Bertini’s brother, and attorney, said they were happy with the result after a “long and difficult struggle.”

“Perhaps this decision will also help other small companies protect their trademark rights,” the attorney stated. Apple did not immediately react.

In 2015, Apple debuted its streaming service and sought a federal “Apple Music” trademark covering many music and entertainment categories. Bertini rejected the application, saying the name might confuse his “Apple Jazz” performance branding from 1985.

Both sides agreed Apple’s branding would mislead customers. However, in 2021, a U.S. Trademark Office panel decided for Apple, citing a 1968 “Apple” trademark for sound recordings it bought from Apple Corps in 2007.

Tuesday’s unanimous Federal Circuit panel overturned Bertini’s opposing dismissal. As a result, apple could not “tack” its trademark rights for live performances to the Apple Corps trademark for sound recordings.

“Tacking a mark for one good or service does not grant priority for every other good or service in the trademark application,” the court stated. Bertini v. Apple Inc. is Federal Circuit Case No. 21-2301.

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