Apple Inc. Wins Antitrust Lawsuit Over iTunes

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The jury in a lawsuit filed on behalf of consumers against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has sided with the technology giant, taking it off the hook for what could have been more than $1 billion in damages. The class-action lawsuit was in connection with security measures Apple added to iTunes and iPods in 2006.

Jury sides with Apple

The Verge reports that the verdict was unanimous, with jurors ruling that the security updates Apple pushed out to iTunes in 2006 were a “genuine” improvement in the product. That basically means jurors saw the new security features as being good for consumers.

The plaintiffs had argued that the security features squelched competition in the digital music player market. They also claimed the new features made Apple’s products less useful because they made it more difficult for customers to use music purchased from competitors’ stores on the iPod.

Apple not in violation of antitrust laws

If the jurors had ruled against Apple, the company could have had to pay over $1 billion in damages for being found guilty of violating antitrust laws. Originally, the lawsuit asked for over $350 million to pay the 8 million consumers who purchased some iPod models between September 2006 and March 2009.

An attorney for the plaintiff has already said they are planning to appeal the decision. Attorney Patrick Coughlin said they were disappointed because two of the security features were lumped in with the other new features in the iTunes 7.0 update.

The two features in question were one that checks the database on iTunes and one that checks each song loaded on the user’s iPod. The other features included support for games and movies.

Apple compared iTunes to video game consoles

Lawyers for Apple apparently argued successfully that its iTunes store, iPods and music playing software were integrated together in a way to how video game consoles are integrated with their company-specific services. Apple said it built each of the pieces so they would work together and that consumers should expect a piece from one company to work with pieces made by other companies.

Apple also argued that the part of the update which locked competitors out of the music player industry was needed because of the deals it had signed with the top record companies. Apple said it was simply patching holes in security.

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