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Apple Trademark Verdict Unlikely Before Mid-April

A High Court judge is unlikely to rule before Easter in the legal fight between Apple Computer (AAPL) and the Beatles' Apple Corps record label over the use of the apple logo.

Lawyers for both sides squared off in London's High Court on Wednesday in the closing stages of the trial over the companies' similar apple logos.

In one corner, Apple Corps Ltd.'s lawyer Geoffrey Vos said Apple Computer Inc. is a "Johnny-Come-Lately" that is attempting to steal the British company's trademark and increasingly encroach on its territory.

In the other corner, Apple Computer lawyer Anthony Grabiner said the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is doing nothing wrong and music lovers are smart enough to tell the difference between the use of the apple logos.

The presiding judge, Edward Mann, reserved his judgment for an unnamed date, but added that it was unlikely to be before the Easter break.

The companies are tussling over a 15-year-old settlement in which each agreed not to tread on the other's areas of business, ending previous lengthy litigation over the logos.

Apple Corps uses a shiny green apple as its logo, while Apple Computer has a cartoon-like apple with a neat bite taken out.

Apple Corps brought the current lawsuit, alleging that Apple Computer has breached the 1991 agreement by moving into the music business. It is seeking damages and wants the computer and iPod maker to stop using its apple logo on its iTunes Music Store and in advertising for the site.

Apple Computer says the agreement allows it to use the logo because it does not own the rights to the music, but simply the digital technology to distribute it.

Grabiner has said the computer company paid the Fab Four's firm $26.5 million as part of the 1991 out-of-court settlement, and in return had received "a considerably expanded field of use." The terms of the deal were kept confidential at the time.

Apple Corps was started by the Beatles in 1968 and is still owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, the widow of John Lennon and the estate of George Harrison.