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Apple CEO Jobs to Testify in Antitrust Suit
By IAN SHERR
Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs has been ordered to answer questions in an antitrust lawsuit over his company’s iPod music players.
In a Monday filing, Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd of the District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose said Jobs may be questioned for up to two hours over allegations that a software update to the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s iPod music players made them inoperable with music purchased from RealNetworks Inc.’s music store.
“The Court finds that Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge,” Judge Lloyd wrote in his order.
Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet declined to comment. A lawyer representing consumers didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
A group of consumers, led by Thomas Slattery, sued Apple in 2005, saying Apple created a monopoly with its iPod portable music player and iTunes store. At the time, Apple used a proprietary software, called “FairPlay,” that allowed iPods only to play music purchased from Apple’s iTunes music store. That restriction also kept music from competing music stores from playing on iPods, the consumers said.
“Although a number of competing legal online sellers of digital files exist, Apple has rigged [the iPod] so that only online digital music files purchased from Apple’s iTunes store, to the exclusion of all other online music files purchased from any other online store, can be directly played on the iPod,” the consumers said in their initial filing that accused Apple of running a monopoly.
The FairPlay software was ostensibly created to prevent music piracy, Judge Lloyd said in his filing.
The ruling, which was earlier reported by Bloomberg News, comes as Apple has engaged in multiple lawsuits regarding its mobile devices, their operating software and even the company’s trademark—”App Store”—for downloading programs.
Mr. Jobs remains on medical leave. His most recent medical leave was announced Jan. 17, but Mr. Jobs has attended a dinner with President Barack Obama and headlined Apple’s unveiling of the iPad 2 tablet computer.