iPod Lawsuit Against Apple Given Class-Action Status
Apple customers who purchased an iPod between September 12, 2006 and March 31, 2009 are being informed via email that they are being included in a class-action lawsuit filed against Apple in 2004. The lawsuit was granted class-action status by the courts last year and includes millions of customers who purchased any of a broad number of iPod music players. Notices are being distributed to customers covered by the class, directing them to the lawsuit's webpage.
The class-action suit was filed in January 2005 by a customer complaining about the exclusive nature of Apple's digital music offerings encoded with FairPlay, preventing users from playing music purchased from the iTunes Store on other companies' music players and other music stores' digital offerings from being played on iPods. In particular, Apple's efforts to thwart RealNetworks' reverse engineering of FairPlay with its own "Harmony" technology served as the impetus for the lawsuit.
In 2011, then Apple CEO Steve Jobs was instructed to provide a deposition in the case. Apple of course no longer sells DRM-encoded music through the iTunes Store, but the lawsuit argues that Apple sought to build monopolies in the digital music and portable music player markets by integrating its products and services while preventing interoperability with competitors' products.
Three individuals who bought iPods have sued Apple seeking to recover money for themselves and other people who bought iPods. The lawsuit claims that Apple violated federal and state laws by issuing software updates in 2006 for its iPod that prevented iPods from playing songs not purchased on iTunes. The lawsuit claims that the software updates caused iPod prices to be higher than they otherwise would have been.
The Court in charge of the case is the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, and the case is known as In re Apple iPod iTunes Antitrust Litigation, C-05-00037-JW.
The list of affected iPods is extensive, including all 5th generation iPods; the iPod Classic; the U2 Special Edition iPod; first, second and third generation iPod Shuffle models; first and second generation iPod Touch models; and, first, second, third and fourth generation iPod Nano models.
Customers who wish to be excluded from the class must inform the court by July 30, 2012. Members of the class who wish register with the court can sign up on the lawsuit's website.