Apple vs Apple: Lawsuit reaches British judge

The latest tussle over the Apple trademark has come before a UK judge, who has admitted to being an iPod fan

The legal row between Apple Computer and Apple Corps, the corporate face of The Beatles, over the launch of the iTunes Music Store reached the High Court in London on Wednesday.

Lawyers representing Apple Computer urged the High Court to rule that the lawsuit should be heard in California rather than in London, which is Apple Corps's preferred venue.

Apple Corps filed the suit against Apple Computer last summer at London's High Court. It alleges that the launch of iTunes broke an existing agreement between the firms over their respective use of the Apple trademark.

Under this 1991 settlement -- which is said to have cost Apple Computer $27m -- Apple Corps has the right to use the Apple trademark for music, and Apple Computer has the right to use it for computers, data processing and telecommunications.

According to Apple Corps' lawyers, iTunes violates this agreement. Apple Computer, though, denies this, and says it has the right to use the Apple logo for data transmission services.

Wednesday's court action was enlivened when the judge hearing the case admitted that he owned an Apple iPod, and speculated that this might meant he should be disbarred from hearing the case. According to reports, Apple Computer's legal team said they were "delighted" to learn that Justice Edward Mann was an iPod user, and suggested that they might have sent him one for free -- if such a move wouldn't have been improper.

Given the controversy over the life-span of the iPod rechargeable battery, Apple Computer could perhaps consider donating a spare battery to Justice Mann -- impropriety notwithstanding, of course.

Lawyers representing Apple Corps will argue on Thursday that the case should be heard in London rather than California. Meanwhile, a US district court in California is also currently assessing a request from Apple Computer for the lawsuit to be heard in America.