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State May Get Apple vs. Beatles Case

March 31, 2004|From Bloomberg News

A U.S. judge ruled that a trademark lawsuit brought by Apple Computer Inc. against a company owned by members of the Beatles and their families can be heard in California.

District Judge Ronald Whyte in San Jose last week denied a motion to dismiss filed by Apple Corps Ltd. However, the British High Court still has to rule on the request by Apple Computer, which sells iPod digital music players, to move the suit to the U.S.

Apple Corps claims that Apple Computer's iTunes online music shop breaches a 1991 agreement over the trademark.

Under that settlement, the computer maker was allowed to use the logo for personal computers, data processing and telecommunications, while the Beatles could use it for music.

In the U.S. suit, Apple Computer is asking Whyte to rule that it hasn't violated the agreement.

Apple Corps' "choice to file suit three times within California renders it immensely reasonable to now require the defendant to defend against a suit in California," Whyte wrote in his ruling.

George Riley, an attorney representing Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Computer, declined to comment on the ruling. Robert Chapman, an attorney for Apple Corps, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Apple Corps is owned by Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison.

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