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Apple beats Beatles

High Court dismisses breach-of-agreement claim

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Apple vs Apple Beatles recording company Apple Corporation has failed to persuade the English High Court that Apple Computer's iTunes Music Service is a violation of a 1991 deal struck by the two companies to define their respective business domains.

This morning, Mr Justice Anthony Mann ruled that the apple logo governed by the agreement had been applied to ITMS and not to the music sold through the online store. As such, Apple Comp. had not breached the terms of the deal.

He denied Apple's Corp.'s request for an injunction blocking the operation of ITMS.

The two Apples came to court in March. During the hearing, Apple Corp. advocate Geoffrey Vos QC admitted the fight was about logos, not music per se: "Apple Computer can go into the recorded music business in any way they want," he said. "What they cannot do is use Apple [trade]marks to do it."

Speaking for Apple Comp., Anthony Grabiner QC said his client had demonstrated ITMS to Apple Corp. officials months before the online store was launched to the public. Apple Corp. had not complained at the time, he said.

Apple Comp. argued that it uses its logo in conjunction with the service not with the content, a line of reasoning with which Mr Justice Mann clearly concurs. Grabiner demoed the service in court to demonstrate that claim.

Apple Corp.'s response to the ruling is not yet known, but it remains open to the company to appeal against the verdict. ®

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