Jury weighs the fate of Apple in iPod lawsuit

The jury is now out following the closing arguments being laid down by both sides in the Apple iPod lawsuit, and it will be down to eight jurors to decide whether or not Apple needs to be slapped with a big fine for anti-competitive practices.

If you missed this one somehow, the case goes back to between the years of 2006 to 2009, with Apple being accused of blocking iPod owners from downloading music from rivals – and indeed even deleting tunes from said rivals.

For its part, Apple has argued this was no anti-competitive move, but simply enforcing security. Earlier in the trial, Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, said that Cupertino felt it was vital they defended their music ecosystem against hackers with software updates – ones that prevented competing stores from being on the iPod – lest they lose support from the major record labels.

Cue said: “Steve [Jobs] was mighty upset with me and the team whenever we got hacked. If a hack happened, we had to remedy that hack within a certain time period or they [the record labels] would remove all their music from the store.”

According to the Verge, attorney Patrick Coughlin, in his closing attack against Apple, said that iTunes 7.0 and Apple’s FairPlay DRM security check, followed by a later software update to bring the same check to iPods, was a “one-two punch” that “knocked out competitors”. Coughlin also pointed to the threat that the software could wipe an iPod if abnormalities were located, saying “I liken it to blowing up your iPod”.

Apple’s legal team called the latter claim nonsense, and basically said that the plaintiffs have fundamentally failed to understand the technology in this case.

If Apple is found guilty, while the suit was originally for $350 million (£225 million), this figure will be tripled under antitrust laws, meaning Apple will be hit with a demand for a billion or so – a major blow indeed.