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Apple must fight Apple in UK - judge

Going to US would take too long, cost too much

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Apple Computer's legal battle with the Beatles' Apple Corporation will be heard in the British High Court, the presiding judge ruled last week.

The Mac maker had asked that the trademark tussle be transferred to the San Jose District Court, where it is also fighting the Beatles' recording company over the naming of a product not yet available in the UK.

However, Justice Edward Mann said the trademark infringement allegations raised by Apple Corp is covered by English law. Apple Comp's online iTunes Music Store(ITMS) is currently only available to US customers, but the judge was told by parties to the case that a UK launch is imminent.

He also noted that a trial in California was likely to take longer and be more costly than a hearing held in England.

The case centres on ITMS: Apple Corp claims the store violates an agreement reached between the two companies more than a decade ago. That pact, it says, prevents Apple Comp from entering the music business, which is exactly what it has done with ITMS.

Apple Corp is seeking substantial monetary damages from Apple Comp, which believes ITMS is not covered by the 1991 agreement -in part because the market for music downloads could not have been foreseen back then.

Apple Comp was given leave to appeal the judge's decision. In the meantime, it agreed to pay Apple Corp's costs for the hearing and £100,000 ($181,940) toward a final assessment of the trial's costs.

Mr. Justice Mann achieved some notoriety early in the case by admitting the he was an iPod user.

"I'm delighted to hear that," Apple Comp's lawyer, Lord Grabiner QC, replied. ®

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