'iPod iTunes' antitrust case to continue on back of new lead plaintiff

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2014
After veering toward dismissal with eliminations of the two named plaintiffs, an iPod-iTunes antitrust lawsuit gained new life of Tuesday as a new plaintiff emerged to represent a class of 8 million iPod buyers.

Lawsuit


A 65-year-old ice dancer named Barbara Bennett appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, where she was examined by presiding Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers and lawyers for the plaintiffs and Apple.

Bennett was questioned to evaluate potential for eligibility in the class-action lawsuit. According to the publication, Bennett told the story of how she used her iPods while practicing ice skating moves. Importantly, the iPod nano she purchased in 2006, making her an eligible class member.

"We're on the right track," Judge Gonzalez Rogers said to attorneys.

On Monday, the class lost its last remaining plaintiff when Judge Gonzalez Rogers eliminated Marianna Rosen from the suit. An original named plaintiff, the validity of Rosen's claims came into question after Apple attorneys found discrepancies in her testimony, not the least of which being an apparent lack of evidence confirming that she purchased an iPod in the case's eligible time period between Sept. 12, 2006 and March 31, 2009.

Rosen initially said bought an iPod nano in 2007 and an iPod touch in 2008, but did not have paper receipts for either device. She offered up an iPod touch in court for inspection, though a serial number lookup revealed that device to have been purchased in July 2009.

She later amended her testimony to include iPods bought in September 2008, but Apple lawyers found Rosen had paid using a credit card issued to the Rosen Law Firm, a family business.

Another plaintiff, Melanie Tucker, withdrew from the case last week after her iPod buys were also found not to fall within the prescribed time period.

Judge Gonzalez Rogers on Tuesday suggested pausing the trial so Apple would have time to investigate the new class representatives, but lawyers declined. The jurist said she didn't want to "lose time" on the suit.

In a comment to Apple attorney William Isaacson, however, Judge Gonzalez Rogers alluded to more trouble with the class.

"You now have an appealable issue," she said.

The class is seeking $350 million in damages from Apple for allegedly using FairPlay digital rights management to create a monopoly with the iPod and iTunes Music Store. Under U.S. antitrust laws, damages could be tripled to over $1 billion if Apple is found culpable of wrongdoing.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    So great that an bankrupt, valueless corporation like Real is causing all these problems.
  • Reply 2 of 26
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,418member

    Plaintiffs are still skating on thin ice...

  • Reply 3 of 26
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 909member
    so...

    you need one person to file a class action lawsuit?

    or perhaps you (as a lawyer) don't. you simply need to file the suit in front of a judge, then get the news media to cover it, and solicit plaintiff's through the media buzz?

    is that how this works?
  • Reply 4 of 26

    ""We're on the right track," Judge Gonzalez Rogers said to attorneys."

     

    What Judge meant to say .... f**k I was getting bored but yeah folks we are gonna make a few hundred million dollars from Apple. Loveeeeeeee it.

     

    :smokey:

  • Reply 5 of 26
    I've said this before and I'll say it again: judges like Gonzales, Koh, and Cote are making the term "US Justice System" an oxymoron.

    What a shame.
  • Reply 6 of 26
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post



    I've said this before and I'll say it again: judges like Gonzales, Koh, and Cote are making the term "US Justice System" an oxymoron.



    What a shame.

    If the case itself has no merit, it'll just get tossed further down the line and the lawyers will foot the bill.

     

    If the case does have merit (which doesn't mean that it's true, just that it's worth investigating), waiting a day to find another plaintiff is acceptable.

  • Reply 7 of 26
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,222member
    I'm anticipating Tallest Skill will be here, ready to shoot the judge, in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...
  • Reply 8 of 26
    darklite wrote: »
    If the case itself has no merit, it'll just get tossed further down the line and the lawyers will foot the bill.

    If the case does have merit (which doesn't mean that it's true, just that it's worth investigating), waiting a day to find another plaintiff is acceptable.

    The case has less than zero merit. It's been discussed in depth, here and in countless other forums, why. Moreover, if the there was a class of '8 million' potentially aggrieved (as the plaintiffs have claimed), finding two credible people to go to trial with, after ten years of it, should have been a non-issue.

    That is sufficient proof that this case is useless to begin with. I can't believe that Apple's lawyers seem to be almost rubbing their hands in glee that the case is going forward: hopefully, they'll turn out to be proved correct, but in these sorts of trials, lots of things can go wrong. The eBooks case is Exhibit A.
  • Reply 9 of 26

    Apparently this wonderful person is an Ars Technica reader who saw it, rubbed her hands with glee at the prospect of money, and joined the suit. I kid you not.

     

    They're bragging about it on their site too: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/12/billion-dollar-trial-against-apple-loses-all-plaintiffs-then-gets-a-new-one/

     

    At least most of the commenters there are rightfully disgusted.

  • Reply 10 of 26
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,638member

    Apple lawyers were reported to have been against ending this trial without a legitimate verdict because they want it done once and for all with Apple not being held responsible for the hacking done by Real and the ridiculous demands by users unwilling to purchase music from the iTunes store or simply rip it themselves. They bought music with DRM from the Real store and think they can run it on iPods. How stupid can you be? I just wish the judge would limit stupid testimony by the new plaintiff and finish the trial in Apple's favor. 

  • Reply 11 of 26
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,638member

    Suggestion for AI staff. Let's have a poll. 

     

    Question 1: Did you ever purchase music from the Real store?

    If yes, did you expect it to run on an iPod?

     

    Question 2: Have you ever owned an iPod?

    If yes, did you ever expect the iPod to run DRM-controlled music from Real?

     

    I'd really be interested in these results. It wouldn't surprise me if the answer to question 1 was nearly 100% "No" and for those who answered yes, I'd be surprised if there were any Yes answers.

     

    For question 2, I'd really be surprised if anyone answered yes to the second part.

     

    My answers: Q1, No. Q2, yes, no

     

    One more thing: jailbreakers aren't counted since I doubt the judge would allow them to be part of the class action suit.

  • Reply 12 of 26
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,328member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

     

    Suggestion for AI staff. Let's have a poll. 

     

    Question 1: Did you ever purchase music from the Real store?

    If yes, did you expect it to run on an iPod?

     

    Question 2: Have you ever owned an iPod?

    If yes, did you ever expect the iPod to run DRM-controlled music from Real?

     

    I'd really be interested in these results. It wouldn't surprise me if the answer to question 1 was nearly 100% "No" and for those who answered yes, I'd be surprised if there were any Yes answers.

     

    For question 2, I'd really be surprised if anyone answered yes to the second part.

     

    My answers: Q1, No. Q2, yes, no

     

    One more thing: jailbreakers aren't counted since I doubt the judge would allow them to be part of the class action suit.


     

    The lawsuit really has nothig to do with Real or iPod users attempting to install Real music on their iPod. The lawsuit only involves the purchase of an iPod during the specified time period. The Real DRM incident is only in the trial in an attempt to prove that Apple had a monolpoly with downloaded digital music becasue it blocked the iPod from playing others DRM downloaded music with FiarPlay and iTunes updates. Plus they had about 80% of the MP3 marketshare. And becasuse of this, Apple was able to overcharge for an iPod. (by $30 to 40 according to the Standford economics professor that tesified for the plainiff earlier.) Having a monopoly is not the problem, but taking advantage of it by engaging in anti-competitive behavior is. That is what the lawyers are claiming Apple did. And that affected everyone that bought an iPod, regardless if they tried to load Real music on it. Apple sold about 8 million iPods in the specified period, thus the 8 millon people they are claiming to represent in the class action suit. 

     

    No monopoly, no violation for anti-competitve behavior on Apple part. Even if the jury is convinced that Apple had a monopoly, the lawyers still have to prove that iPods were overpriced because of it. And now, Apple can appeal the verdict, if by chance it goes against them, and still have a chance to get the case  thrown out because of this plainiff issue. 

  • Reply 13 of 26
    davidw wrote: »
    The lawsuit really has nothig to do with Real or iPod users attempting to install Real music on their iPod. The lawsuit only involves the purchase of an iPod during the specified time period. The Real DRM incident is only in the trial in an attempt to prove that Apple had a monolpoly with downloaded digital music becasue it blocked the iPod from playing others DRM downloaded music with FiarPlay and iTunes updates. Plus they had about 80% of the MP3 marketshare. And becasuse of this, Apple was able to overcharge for an iPod. (by $30 to 40 according to the Standford economics professor that tesified for the plainiff earlier.) Having a monopoly is not the problem, but taking advantage of it by engaging in anti-competitive behavior is. That is what the lawyers are claiming Apple did. And that affected everyone that bought an iPod, regardless if they tried to load Real music on it. Apple sold about 8 million iPods in the specified period, thus the 8 millon people they are claiming to represent in the class action suit. 

    No monopoly, no violation for anti-competitve behavior on Apple part. Even if the jury is convinced that Apple had a monopoly, the lawyers still have to prove that iPods were overpriced because of it. And now, Apple can appeal the verdict, if by chance it goes against them, and still have a chance to get the case  thrown out because of this plainiff issue. 

    Ok.... this is the first time I've heard anyone mention the "overpriced iPod" part of the case.

    So how much did iPods cost in 2006-2008?

    And what were their competitors charging for comparable MP3 players?

    Some history... when the first iPod came out in 2001... it was $400 with a 5GB hard drive and it held 1,000 songs.

    At that time... everyone else was either selling tiny flash players that held 50 songs... or huge bulky players with 2.5" laptop hard drives.

    Was the iPod overpriced initially? Or was it in a class by itself?

    Fast forward to 2006... the iPod product line expanded... but prices actually became much more affordable depending on the model.

    I bought a 2nd-gen 8GB iPod Nano for $249. I didn't think that was overpriced at all!

    And I bought it because of the iTunes ecosystem... especially for podcasts.

    I wanted an iPod... and everything it had to offer. I certainly wasn't tricked into buying one... nor was I upset by my decision.

    I looked at the other MP3 players of the day... and I chose the iPod.

    Besides... how can something be considered overpriced... and they still sell 8 million of them?!?!
  • Reply 14 of 26
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,317member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post





    Besides... how can something be considered overpriced... and they still sell 8 million of them?!?!

     

    iPhones, iPads, Macs, and iPods are all considered "over-priced" by morons and trolls- and these are all the #1 best selling products in their class. God knows what the **** that word means anymore. It usually means "I hate Apple". 

     

    The only rational definition of "over-priced" is a price beyond what the market will support. So this sounds like the most insane definition ever for Apple products, which people fall over themselves to purchase. 

  • Reply 15 of 26
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    A 65-year-old ice dancer named Barbara Bennett appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, where she was examined by presiding Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers and lawyers for the plaintiffs and Apple.

     

    Define “examined”. Did you ask her if she bought an iPod since? If she has purchased any iPod or other portable device for the purpose of music playback since the initial allegation, her argument is void.

     



    "We're on the right track," Judge Gonzalez Rogers said to attorneys.


     

    No, the train has been plummeting off a cliff for quite a while now.

     

    In a comment to Apple attorney William Isaacson, however, Judge Gonzalez Rogers alluded to more trouble with the class. "You now have an appealable issue," she said.


     

    Can this be dismissed on the grounds of criminal stupidity?

     

     “I don’t really want to lose time,” the judge told attorneys.


     

    YOU WASTED NINE YEARS. WHY DO YOU THINK WE’LL BELIEVE YOU?!

  • Reply 16 of 26
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,328member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post





    Ok.... this is the first time I've heard anyone mention the "overpriced iPod" part of the case.



    So how much did iPods cost in 2006-2008?



    And what were their competitors charging for comparable MP3 players?



    Some history... when the first iPod came out in 2001... it was $400 with a 5GB hard drive and it held 1,000 songs.



    At that time... everyone else was either selling tiny flash players that held 50 songs... or huge bulky players with 2.5" laptop hard drives.



    Was the iPod overpriced initially? Or was it in a class by itself?



    Fast forward to 2006... the iPod product line expanded... but prices actually became much more affordable depending on the model.



    I bought a 2nd-gen 8GB iPod Nano for $249. I didn't think that was overpriced at all!



    And I bought it because of the iTunes ecosystem... especially for podcasts.



    I wanted an iPod... and everything it had to offer. I certainly wasn't tricked into buying one... nor was I upset by my decision.



    I looked at the other MP3 players of the day... and I chose the iPod.



    Besides... how can something be considered overpriced... and they still sell 8 million of them?!?!

     

    The last line of the suit posted in this article ......... "The lawsuit claims that the software update caused iPods prices to be higher than they otherwise would have been." 

     

    The lawyers are claiming that Apple, with iTunes, locks you into an iPod because of their FairPlay DRM. Therefore, people had to buy an iPod if they didn't want to lose their iTunes purchased music library. Or if they wanted to buy digital download music form  iTunes, they had to buy an iPod. But we all here know that burning iTunes purchased music to a disc will remove the FairPlay DRM and allow it to play on any MP3 player. Plus the vast majority of the music on the average iPod was ripped from CD's. (I remember seeing a survey in the middle of all this and it found that the average iPod owner bought less that $12 worth of digital downloaded music a year from the iTunes Store.)  

  • Reply 17 of 26
    What is this plaintiff kindergarten court?!!!!! Should the judge give them legal pads with giant spaces for writing in block letters?
  • Reply 18 of 26
    davidw wrote: »
    The last line of the suit posted in this article ......... "The lawsuit claims that the software update caused iPods prices to be higher than they otherwise would have been." 

    The lawyers are claiming that Apple, with iTunes, locks you into an iPod because of their FairPlay DRM. Therefore, people had to buy an iPod if they didn't want to lose their iTunes purchased music library. Or if they wanted to buy digital download music form  iTunes, they had to buy an iPod. But we all here know that burning iTunes purchased music to a disc will remove the FairPlay DRM and allow it to play on any MP3 player. Plus the vast majority of the music on the average iPod was ripped from CD's. (I remember seeing a survey in the middle of all this and it found that the average iPod owner bought less that $12 worth of digital downloaded music a year from the iTunes Store.)  

    Here are the two claims from the lawsuit:

    1. 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.
    2. The lawsuit claims that the software updates caused iPod prices to be higher than they otherwise would have been.

    I understand the first part... that Apple didn't allow other stores' purchased music onto the iPod.

    But I'm having a hard time with the other part... the higher iPod prices.

    (I think we should stop and notice that this case only talks about third-party music syncing to iPods... not your iTunes music playing on other devices. Therefore... the whole iTunes "lock-in" argument isn't being directly addressed by these two claims.)

    Ok... so Apple built the iPod and built a music store to go along with it. They had DRM... as dictated by the record labels. Apple never intended for third party music stores to be available on their iPods. It was a closed system by design.

    RealNetworks also had a music store. They had their own DRM that was compatible with a variety of MP3 players... but not iPods. However... RealNetworks figured out a way to reverse-engineer iTunes to sync their songs onto people's iPods. (Harmony)

    Apple didn't like it... so they plugged the hole.

    That outlines the first claim in the case.

    Ok... a couple questions. Do closed systems automatically trigger antitrust violations? Should every store be forced onto every device?

    Apple didn't think so... and frankly I don't either. Apple's claim to fame is that they control the entire experience... the software, the hardware, the store, the media. Apple can't deliver a great experience if they let other cooks into the kitchen.

    Using an example from today... should third-party app stores be forced onto my iPhone? Hell no!

    But is forbidding third-party stores an antitrust violation? In my opinion... no.


    Now for the second claim in the case:

    "Software updates caused iPod prices to be higher than they otherwise would have been." Again... I have no idea what this means.

    iPods have evolved for years. They got smaller in size... bigger in capacity... and cheaper.

    However... this is where the concept of "lock-in" could apply. You bought a bunch of iTunes songs that only play on iPods. Therefore, you could only buy iPods for the rest of your life. And if Apple were bastards... they could raise the price if iPods each year just to screw you.

    Guess what... they didn't!!! As I said before... iPod got cheaper and/or better over the years.

    But this lawsuit isn't about Apple "lock-in" anyway... it's about locking out third-party music stores and overcharging for iPods.

    So that brings us to the line "software updates caused iPod prices to be higher than they otherwise would have been."

    Otherwise what? These are Apple's devices. They set the price. Only Apple sets the price.

    I see no relation between Apple's software update that prevented third-party music stores... and the prices Apple set on iPods.

    Apple had clearly defined pricing tiers before this lawsuit was even presented.

    In early 2005... this was Apple's iPod lineup:

    $99 - iPod Shuffle 512MB
    $149 - iPod Shuffle 1GB
    $199 - iPod Mini 4GB
    $249 - iPod Mini 6GB
    $299 - iPod 20GB
    $349 - iPod U2 20 GB
    $349 - iPod Photo 30GB
    $449 - iPod Photo 60GB

    If I'm understanding correctly... the lawsuit is suggesting that these prices were too high because Apple implemented a software update that disallowed third-party music stores. Therefore... the lawsuit is an attempt for the plaintiffs to recover money after buying these "overpriced" iPods.

    Huh?

    .
  • Reply 19 of 26
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,638member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DavidW View Post

     

     

    The last line of the suit posted in this article ......... "The lawsuit claims that the software update caused iPods prices to be higher than they otherwise would have been." 

    ...


    I was searching for a timeline of iPod prices and found this one, http://www.macworld.com/article/1053499/ipodtimeline.html (towards bottom), that shows the typical downward cost of each new iPod (less money or more storage). There's nothing in this table that would show Apple raised prices but we also know that anything above $0 is too much for some people to pay, so Apple will have to justify why they didn't give away iPods to play iTunes music. This is something many vendors do right before they finally give up on a product. (Typical loss leader product just to get you into their ecosystem.) Apple doesn't really play that game. 

  • Reply 20 of 26
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,328member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post





    Here are the two claims from the lawsuit:

     

    1. 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.

    2. The lawsuit claims that the software updates caused iPod prices to be higher than they otherwise would have been.

    3.  


    I understand the first part... that Apple didn't allow other stores' purchased music onto the iPod.



    But I'm having a hard time with the other part... the higher iPod prices.



    (I think we should stop and notice that this case only talks about third-party music syncing to iPods... not your iTunes music playing on other devices. Therefore... the whole iTunes "lock-in" argument isn't being directly addressed by these two claims.)



    Ok... so Apple built the iPod and built a music store to go along with it. They had DRM... as dictated by the record labels. Apple never intended for third party music stores to be available on their iPods. It was a closed system by design.



    RealNetworks also had a music store. They had their own DRM that was compatible with a variety of MP3 players... but not iPods. However... RealNetworks figured out a way to reverse-engineer iTunes to sync their songs onto people's iPods. (Harmony)



    Apple didn't like it... so they plugged the hole.



    That outlines the first claim in the case.



    Ok... a couple questions. Do closed systems automatically trigger antitrust violations? Should every store be forced onto every device?



    Apple didn't think so... and frankly I don't either. Apple's claim to fame is that they control the entire experience... the software, the hardware, the store, the media. Apple can't deliver a great experience if they let other cooks into the kitchen.



    Using an example from today... should third-party app stores be forced onto my iPhone? Hell no!



    But is forbidding third-party stores an antitrust violation? In my opinion... no.





    Now for the second claim in the case:



    "Software updates caused iPod prices to be higher than they otherwise would have been." Again... I have no idea what this means.



    iPods have evolved for years. They got smaller in size... bigger in capacity... and cheaper.



    However... this is where the concept of "lock-in" could apply. You bought a bunch of iTunes songs that only play on iPods. Therefore, you could only buy iPods for the rest of your life. And if Apple were bastards... they could raise the price if iPods each year just to screw you.



    Guess what... they didn't!!! As I said before... iPod got cheaper and/or better over the years.



    But this lawsuit isn't about Apple "lock-in" anyway... it's about locking out third-party music stores and overcharging for iPods.



    So that brings us to the line "software updates caused iPod prices to be higher than they otherwise would have been."



    Otherwise what? These are Apple's devices. They set the price. Only Apple sets the price.



    I see no relation between Apple's software update that prevented third-party music stores... and the prices Apple set on iPods.



    Apple had clearly defined pricing tiers before this lawsuit was even presented.



    In early 2005... this was Apple's iPod lineup:



    $99 - iPod Shuffle 512MB

    $149 - iPod Shuffle 1GB

    $199 - iPod Mini 4GB

    $249 - iPod Mini 6GB

    $299 - iPod 20GB

    $349 - iPod U2 20 GB

    $349 - iPod Photo 30GB

    $449 - iPod Photo 60GB



    If I'm understanding correctly... the lawsuit is suggesting that these prices were too high because Apple implemented a software update that disallowed third-party music stores. Therefore... the lawsuit is an attempt for the plaintiffs to recover money after buying these "overpriced" iPods.



    Huh?



    .

     

    Read the last half of this article where the lawyers for the plaintiff got (paid) some Stanford Economic expert to testify how Apple obtain their monoploy and used it to keep the prices of iPods high. He may be an economics expert but has no idea how iTunes and an iPod works. 

     

     

    http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_27094683/plaintiffs-press-ipod-trial-though-lead-plaintiff-may

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