IPods’ Ownership Debated in Apple Antitrust Battle


     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – A decade-old antitrust class action against Apple could come down to who actually owns a pair of iPods bought by the lead plaintiff.
     The lawsuit, filed in 2005, accuses Apple of keeping iPods from playing music purchased from competing music stores through a series of updates to its iTunes platform. At trial, which finally began last week, Apple defended the updates as necessary to fix flaws and bolster security against hackers.
     Last Friday, Apple filed a motion to dismiss the suit because lead plaintiff Marianna Rosen allegedly did not buy one of the iPod models relevant to the case.
     Apple said the purchases Rosen claims to have made during the 2006 to 2009 class period were actually made using a credit card belonging to the law firm of Rosen’s ex-husband, where Rosen worked for several years.
     In a response filed Dec. 6, attorneys for Rosen argued that the woman does in fact have title to devices purchased in 2008.
     “Ms. Rosen paid for the iPods with a credit card that she frequently used during the time for personal purchases,” plaintiffs’ attorneys said in the response. “The credit card had her name on it and she was authorized to use it for such purchases.”
     Rosen gave one of the devices to her son and kept the other one for her own personal use, the motion stated. And the purchase of a third iPod in 2006 – within the class period – further cements Rosen’s right to be in the lawsuit, according to the filing.
     But Apple shot back Monday with its own filed response, saying “this $1 billion case is now about one-half of two iPods.”
     “The sole remaining named plaintiff, Marianna Rosen, concedes that this case, in which Ms. Rosen seeks a judgment for more than $1 billion, now turns entirely on her purported marital property interest in two iPods purchased on the corporate credit card of her former husband’s law firm,” Apple stated.
     “Whatever Ms. Rosen’s motivation or practice, use of the law firm’s credit card to make purchases means that the corporation, not Ms. Rosen, was the purchaser of the iPods,” the response continued.
     Previously, attorneys for the class agreed to dismiss Melanie Tucker, the second lead plaintiff, from the case for a similar reason. That move left Rosen as the only person representing an estimated 8 million consumers and 500 businesses.
     Lawyers briefly discussed the issue with U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers this morning, but the judge has not made a decision and allowed the trial to resume.

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