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Beatles, Apple face off in court

The Beatles and Apple Computer Inc faced off in court on Wednesday in a trademark dispute triggered by Apple's move into the music business.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2006 16:17 IST
UNI

The Beatles and Apple Computer Inc faced off in court on Wednesday in a trademark dispute triggered by Apple's move into the music business through its iTunes download service.

Apple Corps Ltd, owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and the estate of George Harrison, has sued Apple Computer twice before over the companies' competing fruit logos.

The latest settlement in 1991 resulted in a $26 million payment by Apple Computer and an agreement to limit the use of the Apple trademark in the music business.

Apple Corps claims that Apple Computer's use of its trademark in advertising and software for the iTunes Music Store violates that agreement. The iTunes Music Store, integrated with the popular iPod digital music player, has sold more than 1 billion songs.

Apple Corps is seeking a judgement of liability and an injunction against Apple Computer; if it succeeds a subsequent hearing will assess damages.

"Apple Computer can go into the recorded music business in any way they want. What they cannot do is use Apple (trade)marks to do it," Apple Corps counsel Geoffrey Vos said in his opening presentation.

He noted that the Apple Computer logo is displayed when users buy songs from the iTunes Music Store, and he showed the courtroom an Apple Computer advertisement with the band Coldplay that prominently featured the logo.

Apple Computer counsel Anthony Grabiner is due to give his opening presentation later on Wednesday.

Judge Edward Mann, who is presiding over the case in London's High Court, is a self-professed iPod user.

"I have a certain familiarity with the technology," he said.

Apple Corps, run by former Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall, has refused to license any Beatles recordings for sale through online music services.