The Beatles' Apple Corps Wins $77M Payout Over Fake Band Merch

The Beatles
Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

The Beatles photographed in London on June 17, 1966.

The Beatles' Apple Corps and Subafilms, which owns the Yellow Submarine trademark, were granted a $77 million default judgement last week over fake band merchandise. A Florida judge fined the 77 defendants in the case each $1 million in damages for trademark violations.

Apple Corps attorneys requested on Feb. 13 that the court grant their request for a default judgement after the defendants failed to respond to their complaint in a timely fashion. Apple Corps, based in London, is owned by the former members of The Beatles. The groups principal activity is promotion, marketing and policing the products and rights of The Beatles, to which they own the exclusive rights.

Apple Corps was also granted a permanent injunction against the defendants prohibiting them from "manufacturing, importing, advertising, or promoting, distributing, selling or offering to sell counterfeit and infringing goods using" the bands' trademarks. Defendants in the lawsuit were listed only through their domain names, seller IDs, URLs and email addresses.

Apple Corps and Subafilms brought the federal lawsuit against the individuals last November asking a judge to not only prohibit them from selling the counterfeit merchandise, but to also hold them accountable for any commercial sales made that infringed on the trademark. 

Whether Apple Corps will ever collect this judgement is besides the point says attorney James Sammataro, a partner at Pryor Cashman, who is not affiliated with this case. 

“Apple Corps. Limited did not file this action with the legitimate expectation of collecting an eight-figure judgment,” says Sammataro. “It filed to send a message; protect its legitimate licensees; build its case against future infringers and hopefully, just hopefully, catch a few bad actors in the act, seize their assets and put them out of business.”


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