Apple Wins iPod Music Antitrust Suit

A jury has concluded that the company's software did not block users from playing songs purchased from competitors

By
iPod
iPod Classics in 2007. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A federal jury has ended a 10-year battle between Apple and consumers by deciding that the tech company did not block songs sold by competing stores from playing on iPods purchased from 2006 and 2009. The lawsuit alleged that the company had done so in order to monopolize the digital music market. After three hours of deliberation, the eight California-based jurors concluded that the version of iTunes that came out eight years ago improved the quality of iPods in general rather than restrict them, according to The New York Times.

"We created iPod and iTunes to give our customers the world's best way to listen to music," an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement. "Every time we've updated those products – and every Apple product over the years – we've done it to make the user experience even better."

The lawsuit claimed that iTunes prompted users to restore their iPods to their factory settings, effectively wiping the players of any music purchased from other retailers. The attorney representing the plaintiffs in the suit was seeking $350 million in damages.

The Times reports that during trial proceedings, lawyers discovered that two of the plaintiffs had not purchased iPods during the period in question and were subsequently removed. The judge allowed for another plaintiff to join the suit before the jury began deliberations, but she was not given time to testify. Apple's lawyers then used their closing statements to highlight that the plaintiffs lacked iPod customers.

"There's not one piece of evidence of a single individual who lost a single song, not even a complaint about it," Apple's lead lawyer in the case, William Isaacson, said. "This is all made up at this point."

The case was meant to cover two versions of iTunes but the judge dismissed a claim for one of them after an economist who was testifying on the plaintiff's side said he had not assessed that version of the software.

As previously reported, one piece of evidence that the jury considered was a 2005 e-mail from Steve Jobs reacting to a competing service. "We may need to change things here," he wrote, according to The Guardian. The paper also reported he'd sent a similar e-mail in 2003 to an employee: "We need to make sure that when Music Match launches...they cannot use iPod."

x