Apple fails to have US anti-trust suit dismissed and Sony lose interoperability case in France

February 2007


A US court has denied moves by Apple to dismiss a lawsuit that is being pursued against the computer company alleging that their much reported restrictive business model is anti-competitive. The federal lawsuit, launched last July by a consumer, Melanie Tucker, claims that Apple created an “illegal monopoly” by refusing to make their digital music player or codec interoperable with those of their competitors, so that the only source of DRM music for an iPod is iTunes, and the only portable players that play music bought from iTunes is the iPod. The computer giant had hoped to get the lawsuit dismissed without its digital music business strategy being analysed in court, but judges say the case against Apple deserves proper consideration and so the litigation will now get a full hearing, out of court settlement pending. Given the wider and growing concerns of Apple’s restrictive approach which have already caused the company problems in France and various Scandanavian countries, case should prove interesting. At the same time a French court has ruled that Sony is misleading buyers of its music downloads and digital music players, a reflection of growing discontent among consumers – the case was brought by French consumer group Que Choisir. The judgment, delivered in December, ordered Sony France to make clear on the packaging of its music players that they would only play songs downloaded from Sony’s own Connect music store and to publish the court’s findings on its homepage. Apple are also facing a number of other cases (as most major companies do!). In PhatRat Technology v. Apple Computer filed in October, PhatRat alleges that the ‘Nike + iPod’ product offering, which uses a sensor to connect Nike shoes to the iPod infringes on several of its own patents. Other cases filed against Apple challenge the quality of its products. For example, Vitt v. Apple Computer alleges that logic boards of iBook G4 systems fail at an abnormally high rate, andGreaves v. Apple Computer states that white MacBook models discolour easily. Apple is also facing a trade mark suit over the name adopted for its new mobile phone come ipod – the iPhone. Cisco systems say they have owned the mark since 2000 and that Apple knew this.\

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