Apple is being taken to court this week, where it will face allegations that it deleted music from users’ iPods that were downloaded from competing digital music services.
The trial, which started Monday, is expected to last nine days. It was originally brought by two consumers who claim Apple consistently violated federal antitrust regulations between 2007 and 2009. The plaintiffs, Melanie Wilson and Marianna Rosen, are suing Apple for $350 million, although damages of up to $8 million may be awarded to consumers who purchased an iPod between September 12, 2006 and March 31, 2009, Newsweek reported.
Patrick Coughlin, the prosecuting attorney in the case, said that once music from a rival service was detected, Apple would produce an error message telling users to restore their settings when they attempted to sync their iPod to iTunes. Once this was done, iTunes would not sync the competitors’ music with the iPod.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Patrick Coughlin” author_title=”Prosecuting attorney”]
You guys decided to give them the worst possible experience and blow up (a user’s iPod music).
Apple has said measures were taken for security purposes. Apple’s security director, Augustin Farrugia, said the updates that deleted non-Apple music were designed to prevent hacks, the BBC reported.
Farrugia said that the error message users received was vague as Apple did not want to “confuse users” by giving them too much information.
The case will examine whether Apple tried to lock down its iTunes and iPod market from 2007 to 2009.
Earlier this week, the court viewed the contents of an email from then Apple chief executive Steve Jobs. The email was sent in 2005 after Jobs learned that a rival company planned to introduce a program that would allow consumers to buy music anywhere and play them on iPods. In the email, Jobs said “We may need to change things here.”
Lawyers have argued that there was an internal campaign to keep iPods free of music not purchased through the iTunes store. They argue that updating software to prevent music from competitors created a closed system that froze rivals out of the market.
Jurors will eventually hear from a Stanford economist who will say that Apple inflated the price of iPods by almost $350 million. The case has become a class action lawsuit. The case accusing Apple of abusing a monopoly position has gone on for more than a decade and may see the technology giant paying out about $1 billion in damages, the Wall Street Journal reported.