In 1994, Bob Dylan – then aged 53 – sued Apple for trademark infringement. The folk legend hauled the tech giant into federal court in Los Angeles on trademark infringement grounds, seeking to bar the company from using his name in conjunction with a new software product.
A bit of background: in the early 1990’s Apple had been developing a programming language and had planned to call it “Dylan,” which Apple argued stood for “DYnamic LANguage.” The program, which was created in Apple's research laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was, according to Apple, intended for creating programs for hand-held computing devices known as personal digital assistants, such as Apple's Newton. Apple formally unveiled its object-oriented dynamic programming language, which was aimed at expanding Apple’s library of commercial software titles, and Dylan filed suit.
Before a federal judge in Los Angeles was given the chance to decide between the world-famous songwriter and the world-famous computer company, the parties reached a confidential out-of-court settlement, in which Apple was able to obtain (read: license) the rights to the “Dylan” trademark. The Cupertino-based company briefly released the language for 68k-based Macs in the fall of 1995, with a “technology release” version available (“Apple Dylan TR1”) that included an advanced IDE. The same year Apple promptly abandoned the effort, during an overall reduction in research and development.
As noted by an array of publications, it is somewhat ironic that Bob Dylan would sue Apple over the use of the name Dylan, considering he was born in Duluth, Minnesota, on May 24, 1941, as Robert Zimmerman and legally adopted the first name of early 20th-century Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in August 1962.
* This article was initially published in July 2014.