21 February 2006 | 4,126 views

Antitrust case against Apple approved

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Back in September, we posted about Thomas Slattery, an unhappy iTunes user who filed a class action lawsuit against Apple alledging that Apple has a monopoly over the digital music and digital music player market with iTMS and iPods. Back then, the judge dismissed a number of items in Apple’s favor, but didn’t dismiss the whole case. Well it appears as if the case has been approved to go forward, as Mr. Slattery has apparently “met all requirements” for such a lawsuit.

Judge Ware has given Slattery the go-ahead to proceed with his monopolization claim under the federal Sherman Antitrust Act, according to eHomeUpgrade. Slattery claimed that Apple’s system freezes out competitors, and while one antitrust expert called it a long shot, another antitrust law professor said that the key to such a lawsuit would be convincing a court that a single product brand like iTunes is a market in itself separate from the rest of the online music market.

Is the iTMS and the iPod an entire separate market, in and of itself? While I don’t personally think so (iTMS may hold a large majority of the marketshare for digital music, but I still consider there to be some competition), I can see how a lawyer for the aforementioned Mr. Slattery may try to argue such a thing but they would have to argue that Apple has been so overwhelmingly successful in the digital music market as a whole that they have completely taken it over and created their own market, separate from the likes of Napster or Creative music players, in which no one else can enter but themselves.

The fact that the suit got approved to go forward is a little scary, however. We have to wonder: what, pray tell, might the outcome be and how might it affect Apple’s loyal user base?

Source: Arstechnica


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