One of the biggest questions being asked following the reports that Apple is in negotiations to buy Universal Music is 'What will The Beatles think about that?'.
The Beatles? Yes, in 1989 Apple was sued by the fab-four's Apple Corp record label for trademark infringement. The companies settled out of court in 1990, with Apple Computer coughing up $26.4 million to Yoko, Paul, Ringo and George. Apple Corp also forced the similarly named computer-maker from having anything to do with the music business. Apple's old pre-OS X system sound Sosumi is thought to have been a sly dig back at the Beatles.
Many people believe that Apple Corps went out of business when the mop-tops split in 1970. Surprisingly, Apple Corps has just been named as the firm with the fastest-growing profits in the Sunday Times Profit Track table, co-sponsored by Price Waterhouse Coopers.
The music-rights owner has seen a dramatic 194% rise in profits since the 2000 release of The Beatles '1' album, which gathered 27 chart-topping singles.
Profits at the company have doubled nearly every year, reaching £18.2 million in 2002.
So what will The Beatles think about an Apple bid to own Universal Music? With Apple Computer soon to debut its own music-download service and thinking of splashing out on the record-industry's biggest player, Steve Jobs must have his legal team working eight days a week on an agreement. He'll be hoping that it'll be a case of 'We can work it out' rather than 'Get back'. With renewed financial strength Apple Corps is certainly still in the game, and maybe up for a fight with Jobs and co.