The Beatles’ Apple Corps Wins $77 Million Lawsuit Against Online Counterfeiters

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press

In the 1960s the Beatles were estimated to have lost a billion dollars in underhanded merchandising deals.

More than a decade on, shady operators continue to turn a profit.

Every year, the Beatles brand continues to lose millions of dollars in revenue as a result of the unauthorized use of the band’s name and likeness.

Last Thursday a US federal judge Beth Bloom awarded struck a blow on the Fab Four’s behalf, granting $77 million default judgment in favor of the Beatles’ Apple Corps.

The lawsuit concerned counterfeit goods sold online bearing the name “Beatles” and “Yellow Submarine”.

Judge Bloom’s decision demanded a $1 million payment from each of the case’s 77 defendants against which Apple Corps bought the claim.

The 77 were also legally prevented from selling similar products moving forward.

None of these defendants, identified only by online identification numbers comprised of random letters and numbers, came forward to dispute the case against them.

The award should be sufficient,” Bloom wrote in her judgment, “to deter Defendants and others from continuing to counterfeit or otherwise infringe Plaintiffs’ trademarks.

This sentence may be considered by some to have been lenient, as the judge could have gone as far as requiring a $2 million from each.

Unfortunately, Apple Corp’s victory is largely symbolic.

Little to no money is ever expected to be recouped.

With Paul McCartney to be worth an estimated $1.2 billion, Ringo Starr sitting upon a $350 million fortune as well as George Harrison‘s estate earning $9 million in 2019 and John Lennon‘s $14 million, the Beatles aren’t at risk of going hungry any time soon.

This said merchandising has long been a sore point for the group.

In 1964 manager Brian Epstein gave away the American licensing rights for the group’s merchandise for a below-market rate of 10% share of the profits, a move which cost the band more than $1 billion in a matter of years.

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