The opening arguments here on Tuesday in the latest antitrust trial involving Apple were a vivid reminder of a vastly different time for the technology industry — when digital music and the iPod were still new and Apple was an underdog.
In the class-action lawsuit, Apple is accused of violating antitrust law nearly a decade ago by blocking songs sold by competitors from playing on the iPod, in order to protect Apple’s grip on digital music.
At the US District Court of California, lawyers for the plaintiffs said Apple harmed consumers, because people had to keep buying higher-priced iPods instead of cheaper music players to keep playing their songs.
The lawyers painted a picture of Apple’s chief executive at the time, Steven P Jobs, and other executives planning to use software updates to keep competitors’ products from working with iPods. Apple’s lawyers contend that it issued the software updates to protect the security of the iPods while introducing new features. Apple used the software to block songs sold by rivals and “hold on to its monopoly”, said Bonny Sweeney, the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer.
The plaintiffs are seeking about $350 million in damages for consumers from Apple.