Company wins N186.8b court case over anti-competiton allegations

The long-running suit focused on Apple's 2006 update to its iTunes software which meant only iPods could play music purchased from the store.

Apple has been found not guilty of engaging in anti-competitive behaviour by a jury in California.

Consumers had alleged that this violated US antitrust laws, and sued for $350m (N653.9b) in damages.

The trial had featured emails sent by Apple founder, Steve Jobs before his death in 2012.

The class action suit represented as many as 8 million iPod customers and 500 resellers, and could have cost Apple as much as $1bn (approximately N186.85b), as anti-competition damage rewards are automatically tripled under US law.

Lawyers representing consumers and electronics retailers argued that Apple used its iTunes software to force buyers to use iPods instead of rival devices between 2006 and 2009. (The software was updated in 2009 to remove the restrictions.)

The lawyers argued this shut out other devices artificially inflated the price of iPods and used the emails from Jobs to buttress this argument.

In one, sent in 2003, Jobs worried about competition from Musicmatch, a software company, opening its own music store.

"We need to make sure that when Music Match launches their download music store they cannot use iPod," he wrote.

"Is this going to be an issue?"

However, the jurors sided with Apple, who argued the upgrade to its iTunes 7.0 software substantially improved the user experience, and thus was not subject to anti-competitive violations.

Earlier this year, Apple announced it would cease manufacturing the iPod Classic, one of the signature products that led Apple's revival under Jobs.

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