You-Q, a Dutch company, was ordered to stop using name to promote its mobility aid after a legal challenge by Apple Corps, The Beatles' company.
The somewhat disheartening verdict on the rock 'n' roll generation was made as a wheelchair company lost a battle to name one of its electric models the Beatle.
The European Court of Justice ordered You-Q, a Dutch company, to stop using the name to promote its mobility aid after a legal challenge by Apple Corps, The Beatles' company.
You-Q had attempted to trademark the word "Beatle" for the device but judges ruled there was a risk of confusion with the Fab Four.
They said the company was likely to benefit unfairly from association with the band.
The judges accepted that there was a distinct contrast between the "freedom and youth" represented by The Beatles' music and the reduced mobility of You-Q's customers. However, they said many baby boomers might now be in the market for a wheelchair and might therefore be susceptible to such advertising.
"The image conveyed [by the name of the Beatles] is, even after 50 years of existence, still synonymous with youth and a certain counter-culture of the 1960s, an image which is still positive," said the ruling.
"That positive image could benefit the goods covered by the mark applied for, since the relevant public, on account specifically of the handicap in question, would be particularly attracted by the very positive image of freedom, youth and mobility associated with The Beatles.
"This is especially so as a part of the public targeted by You-Q's goods belongs to the generation of persons who knew The Beatles' goods in the 1960s and some of whom may now be concerned by the goods covered by the mark applied for."
The ruling backed an earlier decision by the EU trademark office refusing You-Q the right to use the term.
The judges said The Beatles had "an enormous reputation for sound records, video records and films and a reputation, albeit lesser, for merchandising products such as toys and games".
Visually, phonetically and conceptually, the names "The Beatles" and "Beatles" - trademarked by Apple Corps - were very similar to the trademark requested for the four-wheeled electric wheelchair, they pointed out.
The ruling added: "Moreover, those marks have a distinctive character so that, when faced with them, the public at large, in particular in the non-English speaking countries of the EU, will immediately think of the eponymous group and their products.
"That image transfer would therefore enable You-Q to introduce its own trademark on the market without incurring any of the great risk or costs, in particular advertising costs, connected with launching a newly created mark."
The judges said it was likely that, if allowed to use the term Beatle, You-Q would take unfair advantage of the "repute and the consistent selling power" of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
You-Q was last night still advertising the Beatle "power wheelchair" on its website, which enables users control via a joystick mounted on one armrest.
The product description says the device is ideal for use in and around the house and offers a choice of front or rear wheel drive and an individually adjustable seating system for "excellent physical support and maximum comfort".