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APPLE, CREATOR OF iPOD AND iTUNES, HIT WITH ILAWSUITS Apple Computer’s foray into the music industry has been a smash hit, with consumers snatching up its iPod digital music player and downloading millions of songs from its online iTunes store. But the sweet melody of commercial success is already being muddled by legal discord. In December, the company got hit with a quintet of suits involving the iPod’s battery life, and on Feb. 20 rap star Eminem’s publisher sued Apple for unauthorized use of lyrics. The Cupertino computer maker has asked Morrison & Foerster to defend several of the iPod suits but has yet to reveal its counsel for the Eminem copyright infringement claim. Filed in U.S. district court in Detroit, Eminem’s suit alleges Apple used the lyrics to the hit song “Lose Yourself” in a television commercial without the rapper’s consent. According to the suit, Eminem had informed Apple that he has “never nationally endorsed any commercial products,” and that even if he were interested, a deal would cost “a significant amount of money, possibly in excess of $10 million.” Apple did not return a call for comment on its music-related litigation. Elizabeth Pritzker, a partner at Burlingame’s Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy, is representing the plaintiffs in two of the iPod suits (filed in San Francisco and San Mateo superior courts). According to Pritzker, the iPod battery loses the ability to be recharged after 12 months to 18 months of use and the only way to get a new battery is to buy one from Apple for $99. “The common issue in all of these cases is that Apple doesn’t tell the consumer when it purchases the $400 machines that the battery has a limited life and cannot be replaced,” says Pritzker. The suits, which claim Apple committed fraud and violated the state’s unfair competition law, seek class action status. Parties have moved to consolidate the five cases. — Alexei Oreskovic CHALLENGE TO CITY CONTRACTING RULES REVIVED The First District Court of Appeal last week breathed new life into a challenge to a San Francisco law that gives a leg up to women- and minority-owned businesses competing for city contracts. Superior Court Judge A. James Robertson II had slapped the lawsuit down more than a year ago. A three-justice panel from the First District on Feb. 24 reversed Robertson’s 2002 summary judgment, in which he had agreed with the city that Oregon-based Coral Construction had no standing to challenge the 1998 city ordinance. In reversing Robertson and remanding Coral Construction v. City and County of San Francisco, 04 C.D.O.S. 1610, Justice Maria Rivera wrote, “Coral’s standing to challenge the ordinance does not depend upon the identification of a specific contract on which it will bid in the near future.” The First District declined to address the merits of the underlying dispute, despite requests from both Coral and the city, according to Rivera’s opinion. Coral, represented by the Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation, argues the city ordinance violates Proposition 209, a 1996 amendment to the state constitution that prohibits discrimination or preferential treatment on the basis of race and gender in public employment, contracting and education. City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office said Thursday that discrimination exists in the local contracting market and must be remedied, citing federal authorities such as the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. A similar challenge to the city law, Schram Construction v. City and County of San Francisco, 421249, is pending in San Francisco Superior Court, said John Findley, a principal attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation. As for Coral, Herrera’s office hasn’t decided whether to petition the First District for a rehearing, ask the state Supreme Court for review or just let the case return to trial court, spokeswoman Alexis Truchan said in an e-mail. — Pam Smith 25 YEARS LATER, AND STILL LOOKING FOR REFORM California’s best-known tort reform group threw itself a little party last week to celebrate a quarter-century of making life difficult for the plaintiffs bar. Since trial lawyers have so successfully controlled the judiciary committees in both houses of the state Legislature, the Civil Justice Association of California hasn’t had as many victories as it would have liked in recent years. But with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the governor’s office, some CJAC members are hopeful the group is on the verge of a revolution in state tort law. “I have a feeling in the gut of my stomach,” Assemblyman Robert Pacheco, R-Walnut Creek, told the crowd, which gathered at the Sheraton Grand hotel near the Capitol. “This is the year we’re going to make the changes we’ve been working on.” Chief among those, of course, is modifying the state’s unfair competition law, Business & Professions Code � 17200. CJAC hopes the Republican governor, combined with the threat of a November ballot initiative, will force trial lawyers to acquiesce where they haven’t given ground before. During the party, CJAC President John Sullivan pointed out that back in the day, his group didn’t even have a legislative agenda. Founded in response to California’s landmark Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, the organization originally intended to protect the interests of insurance and other companies in the courts. By the mid-1980s, though, the group, then called the Association of California Tort Reform, realized that it needed to play politics if it wanted to fight successfully. If the party was any indication, CJAC members have reason to feel good now. Although Schwarzenegger couldn’t attend — he was still busy on the East Coast — he sent a letter and several staff members and advisers, who chowed on finger food and free drinks alongside Republican and Democrat lawmakers. “We look forward to working with CJAC,” said Richard Costigan, the governor’s legislative affairs secretary. “This year we look forward to working on 17200 reform.” — Jeff Chorney

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