Apple Corps, the company owned by Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the families of George Harrison and John Lennon, wanted multimillion-pound damages from Apple Computer over the use of the apple logo in connection with its revolutionary online iTunes Music Store.
But Mr Justice Mann ruled that Apple Computer had not breached a trade mark agreement with Apple Corps by using the logo and name to sell music.
It was the latest round of a battle over logos between the two companies dating back to the early 1980s.
The 1991 trade mark agreement gave Apple Corps exclusive rights to use “apple” marks for the record business.
All had worked well and there had been peace between the two companies until the advent of the iPod, which can be used to download and save thousands of pre-recorded tracks via the internet.
Geoffrey Vos QC, representing Apple Corps, said Apple Computer had given the public access to 3.7 million tracks available worldwide and there had been one billion downloads through the Music Store website.
Apple Corps had wanted court orders to stop Apple Computer using the “apple” marks in connection with the iTunes Music Store and damages after an investigation into Apple Computer’s profits.
Instead they were left with a multimillion-pound legal bill. Lord Grabiner QC, representing the US company, asked Mr Justice Mann for £1.5 million interim payment for his side’s costs, which could top more than another million.
Apple Corps must also pay its own legal costs, which would be a similar amount.