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Thursday, April 28, 2005, 01:00 pm PT (04:00 pm ET)

Apple sued over \"Tiger,\" injunction sought

Apple Computer has been slapped with a lawsuit by Tiger Direct Inc. for allegedly infringing its trademark with the new Mac OS X "Tiger'' operating system scheduled for release on Friday.

Tiger Direct, which sells computers and related products on the Internet, said Apple's Tiger OS threatens to dilute its trademarked name, according to Bloomberg, which has obtained a copy of the lawsuit.

The online retailer also accused Apple of deceptive and unfair trade practices in the lawsuit, filed today in federal court in Miami, Florida, Bloomberg said.

"Apple Computer has created and launched a nationwide media blitz led by Steven Jobs, overwhelming the computer world with a sea of Tiger references," Tiger Direct's attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.

If the court grants Tiger Direct's request for an injunction, Apple's rollout of Tiger could be stopped.

Tiger Direct, which is based in Miami, Florida, has used its family of Tiger trademarks to sell computers and computer related products since 1987, the lawsuit said. The company owns trademarks on the names Tiger, TigerDirect and TigerSoftware.

The retailer said Apple's use of the name "is causing confusion, mistake and deception among the general purchasing public."

At the root of the issue appears to internet search results. Tiger Direct contends that Apple's use of the name has adversely affected its ranking amongst the Internet's largest search engines, Google and Yahoo, bumping the company from its usual spot in the first three results.

Tiger Direct has asked the federal court to block Apple from using the name, according to Bloomberg.

The online retailer is also seeking damages and legal fees.

Update: Tiger Direct claims a preliminary injunction hearing is slated for Tuesday, May 3, several days after Tiger is scheduled to go onsale.