Closing arguments conclude in Apple iPod antitrust trial

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Attorneys for plaintiffs and Apple made closing arguments on Monday, and the jury has begun deliberations in the Apple iPod antitrust case.

The plaintiffs represent a group of digital music consumers who purchased iPods from 2006 to 2009 and seek damages of close to $350 million, which could go as high as $1 billion. They contend Apple unfairly locked-in consumers into iTunes software on iPods, and in turn, locked out competitors.

Apple says it was only innovating its product by protecting customers from computer security intrusions and creating a better consumer experience for iPod users.

Plaintiff's attorney Patrick Coughlin told the jury in his closing argument that Apple's software was not a product improvement, but rather a "one, two punch" that Apple pursued to restrict the iPod to music purchased in the iTunes store.

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Apple's lead attorney William Isaacson said the iTunes 7.0 software update was an effort by the company to protect users and digital rights holders from hackers and music pirates, and to improve their existing products.

Apple's top execs defend iPod update
Apple's top execs defend iPod update

Isaacson said in his closing argument that this trial has "no evidence, no iPod users, no surveys, no Apple business document." Speaking directly to the jury, he asked them not "hold a great company liable and tell them to stop innovating, to stop innovating based on nonsense."

The judge has limited the scope of the trial, and the jury will deliberate on the sole issue of whether the iTunes update had benefits for customers. The jury form asks a simple yes or no to the question on that issue.

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The eight-member jury is comprised of three men and five women, and there is no indication when will render their verdict.

Beyond monetary damages, the technology debated in the case has no bearing on current, or future digital music technologies. The plaintiffs tried to prove that Apple engaged in anti-competitive behavior in potential violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Before the jury entered the courtroom on Monday, the plaintiffs had introduced a motion related to Amazon's music store. But Judge Gonzalez Rogers admonished the plaintiffs' attorneys saying they "overreached," adding "I don't know what you were thinking."

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Judge Gonzalez Rogers added it's "a hail mary, a last ditch effort, and it undermines your credibility."

Plaintiffs attorney Patrick Coughlin responded to the judge by saying "I'm sorry if I lost your trust."

Now, both sides await the jury's verdict, which court watchers expect to be delivered on Tuesday, or Wednesday, if not earlier.