Apple Corps litigation against Apple Computer appears set for an out-of-court settlement - as legal observers agree there's a ray of light for the computer company.

It appears that the existing legal agreement between the two companies leaves scope for Apple Computer to distribute music digitally. MacNewsWorld reports that a passage in that agreement implied that Apple Corps agreed to allow Apple to "pursue digital music initiatives".

"So long as there is not a use of the Apple Computer marks in distributing physical CDs, which [Apple Computer is] not doing, the use of software to distribute music seems to be within a fair reading of the contract," Barry Felder, chief litigator at New York law firm Brown Raysman told MacNewsWorld.


Recent reports that any settlement between the two companies could make legal history for its size may be incorrect.

Forbes reported that the new out of court settlement will, "massively dwarf" the 1991 $26.5 million payment. However, speculation remains that achieving settlement in the case may also see Apple Corps. license music from The Beatles to Apple for distribution through its iTunes Music Stores - a massive coup for Apple.

Beatles' song 'Yesterday' is the most heavily-played tune on US radio, a recent report said. It has been played eight million times since its release.

New Help

Apple fired its legal advisors, Linklaters, in the case this week. It hired Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer instead. A report on Legal Week explains: "It is understood Freshfields litigation partner Ian Terry has taken over the case from Linklaters intellectual property partners Roland Mallinson and Nigel Jones."

It also reveals that Eversheds head of litigation, Nicholas Valner is acting for Apple. The report adds that Apple's move to replace its team is: "relatively uncommon and could be due to some kind of clash between the client and adviser".

The case will be heard in London’s High court and is expected to end "within a year".