Jul 21, 2019 | Updated: 09:46 AM EDT

Class Action Lawsuit Begins—Apple Defends iTunes Policies and iPod Prices

Dec 02, 2014 04:24 PM EST

iPod Family Photo
(Photo : MacWorld)

It may just be the class-action lawsuit of the decade, but with opening statements beginning this morning, Tuesday Dec. 2, many are already beginning to question whether prosecutors have enough ammunition to go up against technology power-house Apple Inc. Calling into question the unnecessary software updates that kept iPod prices high and revolving version coming through electronics shelves, the plaintiffs began outlining their case against Apple in court today saying that in an attempt to block out competitors, the company hurt the consumer in the process.

The trial, which is expected to last nine days in court before a verdict will be rendered, will decide whether Apple's MP3 players, the iPod franchise, may have been overpriced since the start. And the court will also evaluate whether or not Apple's tactics to keep competitors and their music out of iTunes software was ethical or simply a way to artificially inflate prices. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that Apple's early policies restricted iTunes users from playing purchased music on competitors MP3 players, not only stifling competition but also keeping iPod prices high.

"Apple made those changes to its software after top executives at Apple learned that competitors had figured out a way to have their songs played on the iPod" lead plaintiff's attorney, Bonny Sweeney says. "And there was a concern by Apple that this would eat into their market share."

But Apple's lead attorney William Isaacson refuted those claims with a quick rebuttal in defense of Apple's software updates. And by pointing out that the plaintiff's argument of inflated prices came at a time when iPod storage increased dramatically, while prices either fell or remained constant, the defense attorney says that the case has little to no validity in its argument.

"This insertion of the stranger in the middle could not get everything right. It posed a danger to the consumer experience and then to the quality of the product" Isaacson said. "There should be no damages here because prices went down and quality went up."

Plaintiffs Marianna Rosen and Melanie Wilson leading the case are seeking $350 million in restitution, however, they won't be the only ones looking to claim some money from the technology super-power that is Apple. Now a class-action lawsuit, the damages could potentially be awarded to as many as 8 million individuals who purchased an iPod between September 12, 2006 and March 31, 2009.

While the plaintiffs have opened their side of the case today, in the coming days Apple will stake its argument onto the stand. By week's end the defense is expected to call Apple marketing chief Phil Schller and iTunes chief Eddy Cue to take the stand. But it's the guest witness that the plaintiffs will "call to the stand" that will have this court case in the news for the weeks to come.

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