Apple back in the dock after iPod case gets a new plaintiff

iPod Classic
The ongoing Apple antitrust lawsuit — in which the tech company is accused of squeezing non-iTunes music off its own devices — is back on course again after a new plaintiff was found to represent consumers in the case. Barbara Bennett, a 65 year-old business consultant and amateur figure skater from Massachusetts, stepped forward after reading about the billion-dollar court battle in the news.

The story so far, if you’re just joining us: Apple stands accused of unfairly trying to keep third-party music apps and audio tracks off its iDevices in an attempt to monopolize control over the music market (or as Apple would have it, maintain standards on its hardware). Lawyers are suing Apple on behalf of some 8 million consumers who purchased iPods between 2006 and 2009, but the case has been floundering due to the original plaintiffs being ruled as ineligible.

As we reported earlier this month, the final two plaintiffs — representing the estimated 8 million customers in the case — were withdrawn from the suit after it was discovered they hadn’t purchased iPods during the right time period. Presiding district judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers has said she has is satisfied that Barbara Bennett meets the necessary criteria, reports The Stack, and so the legal machinations can continue.

The case is significant because it will set down a marker for the kind of control tech companies are allowed to exert over their own products. Apple has already admitted that it did delete non-iTunes songs from iPods for a period of two years by forcing users to reset their devices if any third-party downloads were detected — however, executives claim it was with device safety and ease-of-use in mind rather than a desire to monopolize the digital music market.

The antitrust lawsuit, which could cost Apple up to $350 million, was originally filed in 2005 but is only now making its way to the final court stages. A recording of a deposition Steve Jobs made in 2011 is expected to be part of the evidence used by lawyers.

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