Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s changes to iTunes in 2006 were like a new-and-improved candy bar that’s bigger, has more chocolate and contains a toxic preservative making it lethal, a consumer lawyer said in a bid to convince a jury the iPod maker wanted to kill competition and not upgrade its music service.
Patrick Coughlin, an attorney for consumers, made his final pitch today in federal court in Oakland, California, citing e-mails from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs that urged his staff to leverage iTunes dominance in digital music and testimony by a former company engineer who he said contradicted Apple’s claim that the software changes were aimed at boosting security.
Jurors began deliberations today over whether the evidence at trial showed that Apple’s changes to iTunes were genuine product enhancements.
If they vote yes, Cupertino-California-based Apple will defeat an antitrust case with the potential for $1 billion in damages. A company can’t be held liable for thwarting competition if it made product changes that are genuine improvements, even if the tweaks hurt competitors, the jury was instructed today. If jurors vote no, they will then be asked to decide whether Apple violated antitrust laws.
Coughlin has argued throughout the trial, which began Dec. 2, that the iTunes modifications were designed to disable songs iPod customers bought from a rival music service offered by RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK)
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