Apple include surprising witness in iPod trial

Even though Apple's former CEO Steve Jobs died in 2011, that's not going to stop him from testifying in a billion dollar lawsuit his former company is facing.

Apple reportedly used software to block songs bought over iTunes from being played on other devices, forcing consumers to choose iPods over cheaper, rival-made song players, claim legal representatives for consumers and electronic retailers.

That helped inflate the prices of iPods sold between 2006 and 2009 to a total of £222 million.

If the jury finds these claims to be true, and agrees with the estimate, the California tech giants could be ordered to pay three times that amount under Federal antitrust law.

The case was originally filed back in January 2005, and Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, made a video recording of his testimony six months prior to his death, on 12 April 2011.

Back in 2005, most music selling companies were unaware of the illegal music sharing that was going on online.

Apple then signed agreements with major record companies to sell their music, and to encode FairPlay into them, a "digital rights management" software that prevented illegal sharing. It also prevented songs from other online stores, like RealPlayer Music Store to be played on iPods, and prevented songs bought over iTunes to be played on rival music players, like Microsoft's Zune and Diamond Multimedia's Rio.

RealNetworks created Harmony, a software to bypass the ban, but Apple quickly issued a patch to make sure the ban stayed in place.

That way, many consumers were forced into choosing Apple's digital music ecosystem (iTunes + iPod), claims the lawsuit.

One of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Bonny Sweeney, said Apple was "furious" with RealNetworks when it released the Harmony software and said Mr Jobs' testimony will show Apple's reaction.

The Californian company has said it paid no attention to online rivals when it set the price of iPods.