Apple in California for unfair competition

Apple in California for unfair competition

Apple will have to face justice in California for violating US antitrust laws as well as California unfair competition law. This trial follows a class action (class action) filed in January 2005, including a motion to dismiss byApple was refused for the first time.

This process began in 2004, whenApple blocks all iTunes access for technology Harmony of society RealNetworks to transfer purchases from another online music store to an iPod. At the start, Apple had accused RealNetworks to use a technique similar to hacking to allow this transfer of purchases of third-party software to synchronize them with an iPod under iTunes.

Harmony allowed to transfer purchases made on the Real Music Store (among others) to then convert them to AAC format but above all, to make them compatible with Apple's DRM. FairPlay, the tool that protects digital rights, has never been found anywhere other than in the iTunes Store because the apple company has always refused to grant any license from competitors. Subsequently, the Cupertino company has therefore updated the iPod firmware to prevent any future synchronization with Harmony.

Robert Mittelstaedt, the lawyerApple in this case, defended the company this Monday, April 18, saying that the decision to block RealNetworks was intended to improve the quality of downloads for iTunes customers. The latter also asked the judge to dismiss the charges, ruling against the assertion that the actions ofApple would have been anti-competitive. Counsel added that "iPods work better when consumers use the iTunes jukebox rather than third-party software that can cause corruption or other problems during data transfer or synchronization."

On the consumer side, 58 complaints have been filed since 2004 for this iPod firmware update preventing any synchronization withHarmony of RealNetworks.

The judge asked whether Apple had carried out scientific tests to prove a drop in downloads from its online music store. The lawyerApple indicated that such tests had not been carried out. Consumer Lawyer, Bonny Sweeny indicated that there is no way to measure the real impact on online music download stores following the blocking ofHarmony.

The trial therefore risks reducing itself to a battle of experts according to the judge Ware, in charge of the case. The latter will decide in May whether or not the case should be closed.

As a reminder, a previous class action in 2008 pointed to DRM (Digital Rights Management) which limited the use of files purchased from the iTunes Store. Since 2009, Apple has removed these DRMs from music files but they are still present in movies that have been played or purchased from the iTunes Movie Store.

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