iTunes antitrust case: Dismissal demanded but Apple evidence looks scant

It seems to be an Apple-flavored legal week, with the latest in-court spat seeing the company petitioning for a consumer antitrust lawsuit over iTunes to be dismissed. Apple had been accused of limiting consumer choice after it blocked third-party iTunes alternatives from managing content on iPods back in 2004, with RealNetworks claiming it was an illegal monopoly.

RealNetworks had just released compatibility with its own online store and iPod PMPs in the days before Apple made its changes. The official Apple line is that "iPods work better when consumers use the iTunes jukebox rather than third party software that can cause corruption or other problems" according to company attorney Robert Mittelstaedt, who highlighted a case file of consumer downloading complaints as their primary justification.

However, that case file only contained 58 complaints in total, and when asked by US District Judge James Ware whether Apple had investigated whether the complaints were definitively the result of third-party downloads, Mittelstaedt admitted that it had not. Unfortunately, the legal team representing the complaining iTunes customers reckon they're unable to locate the legacy software required to test appropriately. Judge Ware will rule on the motion to dismiss by May 2011.

Yesterday Apple sued Samsung for allegedly copying its iOS devices. The company also saw its patent case against Nokia and HTC take a hit, with the ITC recommending that it be dropped.