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John Lennon’s widow tells Reuters: “Don’t hold your breath”

John and Yoko. Courtesy of Apple Corps.

Apple (AAPL) settled its trademark dispute with Apple Corps, The Beatles’ holding company in February 2007, clearing the way for one of the world’s most commercially successful pop bands to put its catalog on iTunes, the world’s largest music store.

Three years later, the three parties involved — Apple, Apple Corps. and EMI, which holds the licensing rights — have still not managed to hammer out an agreement.

“We are holding out,” Yoko Ono, who as John Lennon’s widow has veto power over any deal, told Reuters Thursday. “Steve Jobs has his own idea and he’s a brilliant guy. There’s just an element that we’re not very happy about, as people.”

“Don’t hold your breath … for anything!” she reportedly said with a laugh.

It’s still not clear what’s holding things up. Steve Jobs, who counts The Beatles among his favorite bands, has said several times that he’s ready to cut a deal. Two years ago Sir Paul McCartney told the press that EMI was the problem. “There are just a couple sticking points,” he said. “They [EMI] want something we’re not prepared to give them.”

Meanwhile, Beatles tunes are being downloaded for free from music sharing sites at the rate of some 100 million songs per year, according to a 2009 estimate.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]