Courts draw a line under Macrossan, Apple v Apple

Two of the longest-running and most high-profile IP cases ended last week, after The Beatles’ record label Apple Corps settled its dispute with Apple Inc and the House of Lords blocked Neal Macrossan’s attempt to patent his business software.

Apple Corps decided to drop its appeal against a High Court defeat last year and has signed a confidential agreement that gives Apple Inc ownership of the trademarks relating to the word ‘Apple’.

On the patent front, the House of Lords has refused to hear Australian businessman Macrossan’s appeal on the grounds that the case “does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance”.

Macrossan has tried to win a patent for an automated system to incorporate a UK company, but has so far fallen foul of Article 52 of the UK Patents Act, which excludes anything that is “…a program for a computer”.

The Apple trademark battle has been the longer of the two. The dispute has roots going back to 1981, when the two parties reached an $80,000 (£40,570) settlement, with one of the conditions being that Apple stayed away from the music business.

Macrossan has been fighting in vain for around 18 months.

The law firms on the cases enjoyed a lucrative year. On the Apple v Apple case Eversheds partner Nick Valner acted for Apple Corps, instructing Geoffrey Vos QC of 3 Stone Buildings and 8 New Square’s Daniel Alexander QC.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer dispute resolution partner Ian Terry represented Apple Inc, instructing Lord Grabiner QC of One Essex Court.

Marks & Clerk led Macrossan’s legal battle, with a team including IP litigator Gregor Grant and Alastair Wilson QC from Hogarth Chambers. Colin Birss at 3 New Square was counsel to the UK Patent Office.