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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, Calif., 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.

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