March 29 (Bloomberg) -- The Beatles’ Apple Corps can block a Dutch wheelchair manufacturer from selling “Beatle” electric mobility aids, a European Union court ruled.
The EU’s general court rejected a lawsuit by You-Q BV that sought to register a trademark for its Beatle wheelchairs. The court said the Beatles name is “still synonymous with youth and a certain counter-culture of the 1960s” and its “very positive image of freedom, youth and mobility” would likely attract people who needed to use mobility aids, according to a statement from the Luxembourg-based tribunal.
The EU’s trademark office “did not err” in refusing You-Q’s application for a trademark because it was likely that the company “would take unfair advantage of the repute and the consistent selling power of Apple Corps’ trademarks,” the court said.
Apple Corps, owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono and the estate of George Harrison, have defended their trademarks with decades of litigation, including a long dispute against Apple Inc., which ended in 2010, clearing the way for it to distribute Beatles’ songs such as “Ticket to Ride” and “Drive My Car” through the Cupertino, California-based company’s iTunes music store.
You-Q, based in Helmond, the Netherlands, isn’t trying to profit in any way from the Beatles trademark and is considering an appeal to the EU’s highest court, said Gino van Roeyen, a lawyer at Banning NV, who represented the company.
“You-Q is convinced that the public doesn’t link its Beatle product to The Beatles,” van Roeyen said. “The decision rests for great part on fiction.”
Apple Corps’s London office didn’t immediately respond to two voicemail messages.
The case is T-369/10 You-Q BV vs. OHIM
To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Luxembourg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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