Jury Sides With Apple In iPod Antitrust Case

by Julia Love, San Jose Mercury News


OAKLAND — After a decade of legal warfare, it took only about three hours of deliberations for a federal jury to hand Apple a decisive victory Tuesday in a suit that claimed the company used a major update of iTunes to orchestrate an illegal monopoly in the market for digital music.

Plaintiffs representing an estimated 8 million iPod owners threatened Apple with a $1 billion bill as they argued that the Cupertino-based company sought to protect its market share for iPods by releasing iTunes 7.0 in 2006 and trying to sideline competitors. But they suffered several missteps at trial, and the eight-member jury unanimously accepted Apple’s argument that the software was a meaningful improvement over previous versions.

The closely watched case highlights the courts’ wariness to hobble innovation as they set the ground rules for how far companies can go when updating their products before risking antitrust violations, said George Hay, a law professor at Cornell University

The plaintiffs’ bid to prove that a software redesign violated antitrust laws was an uphill battle from the beginning, legal experts said.

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