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'I'm an iPod user' admits Apple vs Apple judge

Hip beak raises eyebrows in UK High Court

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Apple Comp. and Apple Corp. faced each other again in the British High Court today, on the second day of the two companies' legal fight.

And the judge, Mr Justice Anthony Mann, surprised the assembly by admitting he is an iPod user. He wondered if this disqualified him from judging the case. Lord Grabiner QC, representing Apple Comp., told him he was not. "I'm delighted to hear that," he told Mann.

Apple Corp., the Beatles' record company, claims Apple Comp. is infringing on its trademarks. It made the same claim back in the early 1980s, but the two settled their differences with a large cash payment and a promise on Apple Comp.'s part not to enter the music business.

The Fab Four's label sued Apple Comp. again in the late 1980s, alleging that the Mac's ability to record and play music was a violation of the two firms' previous agreement. Once again, they settled out of court, in the Beatles' favour.

This time it's Apple Comp.'s iTunes Music Store which has provoked the wrath of Apple Corp.

During the first day of the case, which is expected to conclude tomorrow, Apple Comp. asked Mr Justice Mann, to allow the case to be transferred to the California court, where a parallel case is being decided. Apple Comp. no doubt believes that since ITMS isn't available in the UK, the company can't be claimed to have infringed here.

It also said that the terms of the second settlement, agreed in 1991, allowed Apple Comp. to apply its name to any data transmission service, whether the data on offer was music or anything else.

Apple Corp.'s position is that the 1991 settlement nevertheless bans Apple Comp. from using its name with "anything related to music". The fact is, when the 1991 agreement was reached neither party could anticipated that computing and music would become as intertwined as they have in the post-Napster era.

Lord Grabiner told the court that Apple Corp. was "attempting to frustrate our position or business conduct or extract money from us because of the success and innovative qualities of our product". ®

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