The verdict is in, and after nearly a decade of legal wrangling, Apple has prevailed in the class-action lawsuit seeking over $1 billion in damages by iPod owners who claimed the company conspired to kill competing music services by adding restrictions to iTunes.
The eight-person jury found Apple not liable of adding DRM restrictions as an anti-competitive move toward rival players like RealNetworks from 2006 to 2009. The Verge reports that the jury unanimously delivered the verdict this morning and said that iTunes 7.0 is a “genuine product improvement” that increased security for consumers.
Apple’s victory means it’s off the hook for the $1 billion in damages the plaintiffs were seeking. The group originally claimed damages around $350 million to pay the 8 million iPod owners represented in the case.
Apple’s legal team argued that the iTunes DRM restrictions were added as a measure to thwart hackers so that it wouldn’t be in violation of its music deals with the record labels. Plaintiffs claimed Apple broke competing music services’ compatibility with iTunes via a series of software updates. Apple countered that its ecosystem was built from the ground up to only work with Apple products and that it’s unreasonable to think a third-party would have zero problems.
The antitrust case against Apple began building in 2005, but in a strange turn of events at the Oakland courtroom, all the plaintiffs dropped out of the case after it was discovered that none of their iPods were purchased during the window the accused Apple of tampering with third-party music. An emergency plaintiff was flown in, but Apple asked the court to dismiss the case altogether last Monday.
A dismissal would have saved the court about a week of proceedings. The two week trial ended with a slam dunk victory for Apple, but after the verdict was read, head attorney Patrick Couglin said the plaintiff is already planning an appeal.
Source: The Verge