Apple has won control of the CyberBritain-owned iTunes.co.uk domain.
UK domain service registry Nominet has decided thet the domain should be handed to Apple. Nominet had been asked to issue a decision on a complaint through its Dispute Resolution Service .
CyberBritain CEO Benjamin Cohen said: "Apple bought the iTunes.com domain name three years after we purchased itunes.co.uk. They are using their status to unfairly claim an asset of an entirely innocent, British small business."
Apple initiated the complaint because it secretly applied for a UK trademark for the name iTunes on October 27 2000. Details of this application were confidential, known only by Apple, its filing agents and Her Majestys' Patent Office. They were not published in the TradeMarks Journal until December 6 2000.
The latter publication is part of the trademarking process, publication of trademarks within it is understood to be a part of the process at which other firms can object to a trademark being granted.
However, CyberBritain Holdings registered the iTunes domain on November 7 2000: "As one of a series of generic domain names to forward to various parts of what was then CyberBritain's network of sites", CyberBritain claimed.
From November 9 2000, "the iTunes.co.uk domain name forwarded to CyberBritain's music search engine service. This was three years before Apple acquired the "iTunes.com" domain name from Esprit Engineering", CyberBritain added.
Apple was granted a restricted trademark on March 23 2001. This did not include the use of iTunes for music products.
On April 16 2003 Apple applied for a trademark for the term, iTunes Music Store, for trademark classes including music.
It was not until last year that Apple legal contacted CyberBritain and on November 30 2004 issued Nominet proceedings to gain control of the domain.
Cohen has been surprised at Nominet's conclusion to the case: "We were not expecting this decision by Nominet's appointed expert. Apple chose to launch the UK brand of "itunes" within the UK with the knowledge that we had owned the name for three years before its US launch and four years before its UK launch."
"We now face two decisions, whether to appeal to Nominet directly or
refer the matter to the High Court," he added.
Pending an appeal or referral to the High Court, itunes.co.uk continues to forward to CyberBritain's shopping site.