Apple forces Linux music player name change

Xtunes was too close to iTunes for Apple's comfort. The software's user interface will also have to go

Xtunes, a music-playing application for Linux, is getting a name change and a facelift -- thanks to Apple.

The company, notorious for a strict approach to those who emulate its distinctive software and hardware designs, has convinced the makers of Xtunes to avoid legal action by changing the product's name to Sumi. The developer, Tex9, will also change the software interface's look and feel -- which had a marked similarity to iTunes.

Xtunes was one of the first Linux applications to connect to Apple's iPod music player -- which was marketed for Mac users only when it launched last year. More recently, Windows users have got their own version of iPod, which connects to a Windows application and is formatted to Windows specifications. Linux users must still rely on independent efforts such as Sumi and the "Sumipod" plugin that allows it to communicate with the iPod.

Tex9 said on Monday that it had received a letter from Apple's lawyers saying that the interface and product name constituted copyright and trademark infringements. The developer said that arguing its case seemed like too costly an option: "Our desire to keep the name Xtunes and its current interface is much less than the time and money it would cost to try to do it." The company plans to make the interface change by the end of this month.

XPod, an iPod connector application for Windows, originally announced last year, later changed its name to XPlay under pressure from Apple.

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