Zombie class action haunts Apple

at-least-mantan-moreland-graces-this-poster-hollywood-horror-history-classic-horror-eras-the-1940-s-b840d71b-c348-43fd-ac1b-cf79e1070d44A ten-year old class action is back from the dead after haunting the fruity cargo cult Apple for more than a decade.

Apple faces an antitrust lawsuit which claims the outfit tried to monopolise online music distribution is headed to trial.

If you believe the Apple iPod iTunes antitrust litigation, Apple violated the US and California antitrust law by restricting music bought on iTunes from being played on devices other than iPods and by not allowing iPods to play music bought on other digital music services.

Another zombie  is going to be dug up for the trial — late Apple founder Steve Jobs will reportedly appear via a videotaped statement during the trial. Our guess is that he will not be able to answer questions, unless lawyers conduct a séance.

The trial will start this morning in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Plaintiffs are seeking about $350 million in the case and lawyers for both sides have filed dozens of trial documents over the past decade. The case has a long history. First, the court refused to dismiss it but chucked out some of the original claims in 2005.

In October, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers scheduled a trial to begin this Tuesday.

The original January 2005 complaint in the case references a music distribution industry that no longer exists nearly a decade later. The document refers to iTunes competitors Napster, Buy.com, Music Rebellion and Audio Lunch Box, along with digital music players from Gateway, Epson, RCA and e.Digital.

Even the opening paragraphs of the complaint talk about defunct CD seller Tower Records.

“It would be egregious and unlawful for a major retailer such as Tower Records, for example, to require that all music CDs purchased by consumers at Tower Records be played only with CD players purchased at Tower Records,” the complaint said. “Yet, this is precisely what Apple has done.”

Lawyers for plaintiff Thomas Slattery wrote that Apple has rigged the hardware and software in its iPod such that the device will not directly play any music files originating from online music stores other than Apple’s iTunes music store.

Apple removed DRM (digital rights management) from iTunes in early 2009, so the lawsuit covers iPods purchased from Apple between September 2006 and March 2009.