Apple has won against a highly publicized potential $1 billion lawsuit that was filed by iPod users that claimed iTunes updates released in 2006 stifled the competition for digital music.
The victory was a decisive one, as the jury needed only three hours to deliberate before vindicating Apple in the antitrust case.
The jury in Oakland, Calif. decided that the updates to the firmware and software included in iTunes 7.0 provided "genuine product improvements." By answering that one question, Apple was cleared of any antitrust liabilities, despite the possibility that the updates did hurt the businesses of rival companies in the then-burgeoning digital music industry.
The verdict ended a trial that lasted two weeks, one that featured the recorded testimony and emails of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Apple told the members of the jury that the implemented updates, which reinforced the security of the iPods and added safeguards against hacking, were already being developed two years prior to rival RealNetworks starting to sell digital music. RealNetworks was able to work a way around the mechanism of Apple that prevents non-iTunes music from properly working on iPods.
Apple also said that claims that the company "blew up" iPods of users who purchased songs from RealNetworks to be able to force them to buy another iPod were not true and were only fabricated by consumer lawyers who did not even have a basic understanding of the technology in the devices.
Bill Isaacson, the attorney representing Apple, said that the opposition was not able to show even a single iPod user who was cheated out of the music that they downloaded or was made to suffer from any harm due to the software updates that Apple released.
"We created iPod and iTunes to give our customers the world's best way to listen to music," Apple said after its victory was handed down. "Every time we've updated those products -- and every Apple product over the years -- we've done it to make the user experience even better."
One of the attorneys representing the consumers, Patrick Coughlin, said that it was difficult to convince the members of the jury that while the updates included improvements, iTunes 7.0 also came with codes that blocked Apple's rivals from the iPod.
The law firm of Coughlin was tasked with representing up to 8 million iPod users and 500 resellers in the class-action lawsuit, which involved several versions of Apple's iPod Classic, iPod Nano and iPod Touch purchased between the years 2006 to 2009.