Steve Jobs is key witness at Apple’s latest antitrust trial

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Evidence from Steve Jobs will form a large part of Apple's latest antitrust case. Photo: Ben Stanfield/Flickr CC
Photo: Ben Stanfield/Flickr CC

Steve Jobs made an appearance Monday as a key witness in Apple’s most recent antitrust lawsuit — courtesy of a video deposition taped shortly prior to his death in 2011.

The lawsuit concerns a long-running class action antitrust lawsuit dating back to 2005. It is argued by the plaintiffs that Apple gained an unfairly monopolistic position by blocking competitors from putting their music on iPods.

Jobs avoided many of the questions he was asked during the 2-hour video deposition, saying that “I don’t remember,” “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall” a total of 74 times — including when he was asked if he was familiar with what the lawsuit was about.

A few typically snappy Steve Jobs moments did crop up, however. Responding to a question about the former iTunes rival Real Networks, Jobs replied, “Do they still exist?”

In another instance cited, an email sent by Jobs to other Apple executives in July 2004 proposed a line for a possible press release about Real Networks, noting that, “We are stunned that Real is adopting the tactics and ethics of a hacker and breaking into the iPod.” In response Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller wrote that, “I like likening them to hackers.”

When Jobs was asked in the deposition whether his statements about Real Networks sounded vehement or strong, he answered that they, “don’t sound too angry to me when I read them.”

“Usually, a vehement – I don’t know about the word ‘vehement,’ but a strong response from Apple would be a lawsuit,” he continued.

The trial will also feature testimony from some of Apple’s current executives, including head of marketing Phil Schiller, and iTunes boss Eddy Cue.

The plaintiffs — made up of a group of individuals and businesses who purchased iPods from 2006 to 2009 — are seeking about $350 million in damages from Apple. This amount will automatically be tripled under antitrust laws if Apple is found guilty.

Source: Reuters