Steve Jobs To Be Questioned Over Blocking RealNetworks’ From iPod Syncing

Posted Mar 22, 2011

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs will be called in for an antitrust dispute alleging that his company is a music-downloading monopoly. The complaint was filed in 2005 and lawyers gained permission to conduct limited questioning of Steve Jobs under an order that was issued yesterday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd.

The questioning is not allowed to go for over 2 hours and the only topic that can be discussed is the changes Apple made to their software in October 2004 that make RealNetworks software unable to work with the iPod music player. ?The court finds that Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge about the issues at the center of the dispute over RealNetworks software,? said Lloyd.

Thomas Slattery filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple in 2005 saying that the company illegally limited consumer choice by making the iPod work with iTunes exclusively. The software that the iPods ran on was called FairPlay. FairPlay encodes digital music files to only allow downloads from iTunes to be played on the iPod and not use products from other manufacturers. FairPlay also prevented music sold by other companies to work on iPods.

On July 24, 2004, RealNetworks announced software called Harmony that would sell music, which would work on the iPod. Apple updated their FairPlay software to prevent Harmony from working with the iPod.

This case was filed under Apple iPod, iTunes Antitrust Litigation, C05- 0037JW, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).