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APPLE COMPUTER'S recovery under its interim CEO, Steve Jobs, continued last week with profits for a fifth consecutive quarter. Sales of iMacs helped the company achieve its first year-on-year sales gain since 1995. Apple sold 519,000 iMacs in the quarter, increasing overall unit shipments by 49 per cent, and saved money by improved inventory efficiency.

Apple said that its net income more than tripled, to $152m from $47m compared with the same quarter last year. Revenues rose to $1.71bn from $1.58bn. However, Fred Anderson, the chief financial officer, was cautious. "One quarter doesn't yet establish a trend," he said, adding that sales would probably level off this quarter.

The day after profits were announced, a Salomon Smith Barney analyst, Richard Gardner, cut his rating on Apple's stock from a buy to a neutral, and Apple's shares fell $5.0625 to close at $41.375. "We were disappointed in Apple's unwillingness to reduce iMac prices during the December quarter," Gardner said.


DISPUTES OVER website addresses and trade names could be ended if proposals from the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) are adopted. The Geneva-based firm was asked to draft a plan for legislation to protect trademark names on the Net and will present its findings in March.

There are around 4.8 million registered domain names, but problems arise when "cyber-squatters" register trade names, or approximations to them, that have not been registered, and offer to sell them for large profits to the real owners. They can be sued for copyright offences, but the process is costly. "The real owners are subjected to blackmail to buy back their own names," said Francis Gurry, of Wipo.

Under the proposals, new names would be registered only on recognition of Icann's authority to rule in any disputes.