Apple Sued Over iTunes

By | January 7, 2005

An iTunes Music Store (iTMS) has launched a lawsuit against Apple claiming anticompetitive behavior – Slattery alleges that purchasing music from the iTMS requires that he use Apple’s iPod.

The suit, filed in California District Court, could be difficult to prove. The suit alleges that “”Apple has turned an open and interactive standard into an artifice that prevents consumers from using the portable hard drive digital music player of their choice.” He claims that he was “forced” to buy an iPod to hear the music he´d bought from the iTunes Music Store.

Apple has long been under attack for putting its own DRM (Digital Rights Management) wrapper on its AAC format. However, Apple has licensed the iPod technology to HP as well as agreeing to license the wrapper to Motorola which should see several Motorola products capable of playing music purchase on the iTMS

Apple’s market share is admittedly staggering in the mobile music market. However, alleging anti-competitive behavior will require that Slattery first prove that Apple has a monopoly – and then he must prove that Apple abused that monopoly in such a way as to suppress competition.

The task has proven difficult before – the most glaring example being the multitude of cases against Microsoft – and it is unlikely to be any easier with Apple, in spite of Apple’s moves to block Real’s attempts to open up the music sold on the iTMS for use on other players.

The largest issue in Slattery’s way, though, is that Apple is likely to argue that iTunes doesn´t foreclose other distribution channels.

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