If successful, the lawsuit would force multiple online retailers to take down unauthorized merchandise featuring The Beatles.
Apple Corps Ltd — a business entity founded by the Beatles — has launched a $100 million against fifty online sellers. Naming sellers like shirtsforyou.net and Mochistore88, The Beatles’ company alleges that the sites have sold counterfeit goods copying their trademarks.
Along with subsidiary Subafilms Limited, Apple Corps. aims to stop each defendant’s illegal activities. Filed in the US District Court, Florida Southern, the company says that it owns all merchandising rights to The Beatles. This includes all audio and audio-video content, along with all other intangible rights in the band’s name.
Apple Corps. alleges that it “suffers ongoing daily and sustained violations of their respective trademark rights.”
The defendants, writes Apple Corps, have wrongfully reproduced and counterfeited individual trademarks for two reasons:
1. To dupe and confuse the public the “consuming public.”
2. To earn “substantial profits.”
Apple Corps claims that it has to spend a growing amount of money to combat “the expansion of counterfeiting” on the internet. To sell fraudulent merchandise featuring The Beatles, the defendants use websites like Aliexpress.com, Amazon.com, Bonanza.com, eBay.com, and Etsy.com. They also engage in direct competition by advertising, offering for sale, and selling goods allegedly from The Beatles.
Both plaintiffs, writes Apple Corps, have to protect consumers from the confusion and erosion of their respective brands.
Dubbed ‘Counterfeit Goods’ in the lawsuit, Apple Corps writes that the defendants infringe on logos featuring The Beatles marks. The sellers also use marks featuring the yellow submarine logo. Both companies believe that even with a judgment in their favor, the infringers may avoid monetary payment. They may “transfer or secret their assets” earned from selling fraudulent merchandise.
Apple Corps listed four counts against the infringers.
1: Trademark counterfeiting and infringement.
2: False designation of origin.
3: Common law unfair competition.
4: Common law trademark infringement.
Apple Corps and Subafilms have asked the court to issue an order barring sales of the fraudulent products. This includes providing an injunction to take down listings on Hong Kong’s Alibaba.com, as well as Amazon.com, Bonzanza.com, eBay.com, and Etsy.com. Both companies have also asked the court for $2 million in damages from each of the 50 listed defendants.
You can read the lawsuit, including listed offenders and Amazon seller IDs, below.
Featured image by TheBeatlesVEVO (YouTube screengrab)