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Apple Makes Mid-Trial Push to End ITunes Suit

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - Apple took yet another tack Wednesday to end an antitrust class action accusing the giant of monopolizing the music download market.

In a motion for judgment as a matter of law filed Wednesday, Apple argued that class attorneys haven't made a case with enough legal basis to convince the jury that the company violated antitrust laws.

The suit claims that certain iTunes updates between 2006 and 2009 prevented iPod users from playing music bought from competing music services.

Much of the case centers around a program called Harmony, which allowed songs purchased from the RealPlayer Music Store - an Apple competitor - to be played on iPods, bypassing Apple's music protection code. Updates to iTunes later made it impossible for those songs to work on iPods.

In its new motion, the company argued that plaintiffs haven't offered any evidence to show the iTunes updates weren't actual improvements. Apple personnel have testified at trial that the updates were necessary to fix security flaws.

At the beginning of the trial U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers instructed jurors to decide whether the updates were "genuine product improvements," and Apple pointed to several of the benefits the updates provided in its motion.

"iTunes 7.0 and 7.4 added numerous valuable features, such as full length movies, downloadable games for iPods, and the ability to transfer songs from iPods to one's desktop computer," Apple attorneys wrote.

The company also argued that an economics expert called by the plaintiffs during trial didn't make a sufficient argument that there was an iPod price increase due to Apple's alleged monopoly.

Furthermore, Apple lawyers said, "it is the law of this case that Apple's decision to design the iPod to work exclusively with iTunes instead of interoperating with other software was lawful, and that Apple had no duty to assist RealNetworks or others in enabling or maintaining interoperability with the iPod."

Meanwhile, plaintiffs' attorneys were scrambling to find a new class representative when two lead plaintiffs were dismissed from the case during the trial for not having purchased an iPod during the class period.

Rogers told class attorneys at the beginning of the week to find a replacement by Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that class attorneys have proposed adding Barbara Bennett, a 65-year-old business consultant from Massachusetts, as the new named plaintiff.

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