'Invalid' iPods threaten to derail billion-dollar lawsuit against Apple

A billion-dollar U.S. lawsuit may be in jeopardy because of out of date Ipods. Apple lawyers have raised an 11th-hour challenge that could derail the long-running case over the tech giant’s use of restrictive software that kept iPods from playing digital music sold by competitors to its iTunes store. The case went to trial in California this week, but Apple has said new evidence shows the two women named as plaintiffs may not have bought iPod models covered by the lawsuit. Opposing lawyers are not ready to give up the case but U.S. district judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers told both sides to file written arguments on whether the trial should proceed because she wants to begin considering the issue. Apple stopped using the software in 2009 and the lawsuit covers only iPod models bought between September 2006 and March 2009.

I am concerned that I don’t have a plaintiff. That’s a problem.

U.S. district judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers

Plaintiffs claim that Apple’s restrictive software froze out competitors and allowed Apple to sell iPods at inflated prices. They are seeking $350m damages, which could be tripled if the jury finds Apple broke federal anti-trust law. After plaintiff Marianna Rosen gave evidence, Apple lawyers said they checked the serial number on her iPod Touch and found it was purchased in July 2009. Apple lawyer William Isaacson said it appears the other plaintiff, Melanie Wilson, bought iPods outside the relevant time frame or, in one instance, a model that did not have the specific version of software at issue in the case. The judge appeared irked at the last-minute hitch in a case that was originally filed nearly 10 years ago and indicated she did not want to leave the issue unresolved indefinitely.