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Apple Computer, Inc.’s foray into the music business has been a smash hit, with customers snatching up its iPod digital player and downloading millions of songs from its online iTunes store. But the sweet melody of commercial success has been disrupted by legal discord. In December, Apple got hit with a quintet of suits involving the iPod’s battery life, and on February 20 rap star Eminem’s publisher sued Apple for unauthorized use of lyrics. The Cupertino, California, computer maker tapped 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 that Apple used the lyrics to the hit “Lose Yourself” in a television commercial without his 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 to 18 months of use, and the only way to get a new battery is to buy one from Apple for $99. 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. A version of this story originally appeared in The Recorder, a sibling publication of Corporate Counsel.

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