Previously unseen emails and a videotaped deposition of Steve Jobs is set to play a key part in a long-running class action antitrust lawsuit against Apple, which goes to trial this week.
First filed back in 2005, the lawsuit argues that Apple put itself in a monopolistic position by refusing to allow iPod customers to use non-iTunes music on their iPods, thanks to software upgrades issued by Apple. The case saw little action for its first seven years, but picked up steam with a judge’s ruling in May 2012, and is now finally arriving in the court room.
“We will present evidence that Apple took action to block its competitors and in the process harmed competition and harmed consumers,” the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer was quoted as saying in an article for the New York Times.
Several of Jobs’ emails related to the case have already been released. In one 2003 email, he said that he wanted to ensure that Musicmatch, a software company then planning on opening its own iTunes competitor music store, wouldn’t be able to have their music played on an iPod. Other emails are expected to become public during the trial.
The trial will also feature testimony from some of Apple’s current executives, including head of marketing Phil Schiller, and iTunes boss Eddy Cue.
It is expected that Apple’s lawyers will argue that iTunes updates were there to protect and improve the UX for customers, rather than to damage competitors. Given that the company can pretty well prove that iPod sales collapsed over the past few years — regardless of what Apple did — it is quite possible that the ruling will come down in Cupertino’s favor.
Even if it does not, the $350 million damages at stake are a pittance for a company that now carries a market cap in excess of $700 billion.