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PC dealer sues Apple over Tiger

Alleges Mac OS X 10.4 brandname infringes trademark

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US reseller Tiger Direct has sued Apple, claiming the Mac maker's decision to name the latest version of the Mac OS after the same feline predator infringes its trademark.

Worse, the plaintiff claims, by adopting the name Tiger, Apple has "overwhelmed the computer world with a sea of Tiger references", displacing the reseller from Internet search engine results, and in turn materially harming its business, it believes.

Bloomberg reports that Miami-based Tiger Direct, part of Systemax, is seeking an injunction against the allegedly trademark-infringing Apple product. It's after legal costs and damages, too. Tiger Direct maintains it has held a number of Tiger-related trademarks since 1987. Apple's use of the word is "causing confusion, mistake and deception among the general purchasing public", apparently.

Apple announced Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger' almost a year ago, so you have to question Tiger Direct's motivation in suing the company the day before it's about to launch the product, which goes on sale at 6PM today.

The OS' launch will go ahead - a hearing to discuss the injunction request will not take place until next week.

It's not the only legal battle over trademarks the Mac maker is involved in. Don't forget, the company is still slugging it out with The Beatles' recording company Apple Corporation over its move into the music market with iTunes. Then there's Apple's tussle with the late astronomer Carl Sagan, after it used his surname as a codename for one of its desktops. Apple renamed the machine 'BHA', allegedly standing for 'Butt-head Astronomer'.

More particularly, Mac OS X 'Tiger' features a technology called Bonjour. It's not a new component, rather a new name for an old feature, Rendezvous. The name change was forced on the company because it was sued by the company that owns the Rendezvous trademark, business software developer Tibco.

Apple has itself sued many other companies, alleging they made their products look a little too like its own, icon-based offerings.

If Tiger Direct's lawsuit fails, the company will have got its name in front of countless computer users who, like us, had never even heard of it until today. If that doesn't materially benefit its business, we don't know what will. Perhaps Apple should demand commission for allowing it to reach new buyers this way... ®

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