Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) late CEO Steve Jobs may have deliberately led the tech giant into violating antitrust laws. In a class action suit filed way back in 2005, plaintiffs argue that Apple have violated antitrust laws by restricting its iPod customers to buying music only from Apple-owned iTunes, which the company has implemented by means of a software upgrade that prevented non-iTunes music from playing in the iPod.
In Tuesday’s hearing in a federal court in Oakland, California, plaintiff lawyer Bonny Sweeney presented to the court emails from Apple executives, including ones from its co-founder Steve Jobs. One particular email shows Jobs’ concern regarding a threat posed by Real Networks, another song manager, to Apple’s share in the digital music market. A press release suggested by Jobs in a 2004 email to other Apple executives portrayed Real Networks as a hacker. Jobs statement read “We are stunned that Real is adopting the tactics and ethics of a hacker and breaking into the iPod.”
Jobs’ email from 2003, on the other hand, revealed his wishes that Musicmatch should be unable to play its music on the iPod. Musicmatch is a software company that have plans then of establishing its own digital music store.
The 2006 iPod upgrade locking users to Apple’s products is an antitrust violation, plaintiffs argue. Because the upgrade essentially blocked music from Apple’s competitors from playing on its devices, it gave the company a monopolistic hold of the market. Plaintiffs further contend that the upgrade harmed consumers because it allowed Apple to charge more for its digital music content. Damages are estimated at $350 million, and can rise up to $1 billion once antitrust violation is established.
On the other hand, Apple contends that it has no obligation to make its devices compatible with that of its competitors, and that it does not have monopoly of the market for digital music.
This article has been written by Nonito Guntan.