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Computer company defends Apple use

Apple Computers vehemently denied it is misusing its trademark in relation to sales of music, the company’s lawyer told the High Court in London on Thursday.

In the company’s defense of claims of trademark infringement by the Beatles’ record company, Apple Corps, lawyer Anthony Grabiner attempted to systematically reject each of the allegations that had been made against his client.

Grabiner stressed that the Apple logo was used on the iTunes Web site for two years before the Music Store site was launched without any complaint from the record company.

Apple Computers maintains that the logo remains on the operational panel of the iTunes software and is located in exactly the same place on the musicstore as it is in the iTunes software, identifying Apple as the source of the software and the service.

“Through the use of our marks, we are telling the user that iTunes and the iTunes Music Store are powered by Apple,” said Grabiner. “The user may be contracting with the musicstore and not the content owner, but it is obvious that the ownership of the content is not with my clients.”

Apple Corps is seeking an injunction to force Apple Computers to remove any reference to Apple and the Apple logo from its iTunes Music Store Web site as well as associated marketing and advertising. If Apple Corps is successful, another trial would determine damages.

Tackling the issue of material that is exclusive to the iTunes service, such as live recordings or so-called digital boxed sets or catalogs of music, Grabiner said Apple had no claim of ownership over such content and the exclusive term should be viewed merely as a standard retail tool to make iTunes more attractive to consumers. Indeed, he added that such exclusives were usually confined to short periods of time before the content is made available more widely through rival services.

Grabiner ended the day’s proceedings by giving a live demonstration of the iTunes and iTunes Music Store services. He also reminded Justice Edward Mann that the musicstore also carries podcasts, audio books, TV shows and movies. Grabiner said that the presence of the mark did not suggest that Apple owned the copyright for any of that downloadable material and maintained that neither did it suggest Apple owned any of the music tracks available for purchase through the musicstore.

Neil Aspinall, the Beatles’ former road manager who has worked his way up to managing director of Apple Corps, is expected to testify today.

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