Legal Issues

Apple Wins Digital Music Antitrust Trial

Apple Wins Digital Music Antitrust Trial
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Apple Inc won an antitrust trial on Tuesday when a U.S. jury decided the company did not act improperly when it restricted music purchases for iPod users to Apple's iTunes digital store.

The verdict was read in an Oakland, California federal court.

Patrick Coughlin, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said "the jury called it like they saw it." An Apple lawyer referred questions to the company, which did not have an immediate comment.

The plaintiffs, a group of individuals and businesses who purchased iPods from 2006 to 2009, sought about $350 million in damages from Apple for unfairly blocking competing device makers.

The trial included video deposition testimony given by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs shortly before he died in 2011.

Apple faced a challenge in the online music market from Real Networks, which developed RealPlayer, its own digital song manager, plaintiffs claimed. It included software which allowed music purchased there playable on iPods as well as competing devices.

Apple eventually introduced a software update that restricted the iPod to music bought on iTunes. Plaintiffs say that step discouraged iPod owners from buying a competing device when it came time to upgrade.

Apple, meanwhile, argued the software update was meant to improve the consumer experience, and that it had no legal duty to make its products compatible for competitors.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is The Apple iPod iTunes Anti-Trust Litigation, 05-37.

(Reporting by Dan Levine, writing by Peter Henderson; Editing by Diane Craft and Richard Chang)

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