Apple chief executive Steve Jobs was ordered by a U.S. judge to testify in an antitrust lawsuit that alleges the company prevented music files sold by competitors from playing on its iPods.
Jobs, who has been on medical leave from Apple since January, can be deposed for no more than two hours, according to the court order issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd in San Jose. Attorneys who filed the class-action complaint on behalf of consumers can ask him only about changes the company made to its software format, which made it impossible for iPods to play songs that were not from Apple’s iTunes store.
The court ruled that Jobs has “unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge” of the issues and must testify. The magistrate denied requests from the plaintiffs to question Jobs on other matters related to the case.
After the success of the iTunes store, a company called RealNetworks created music files that could be played on the iPod without iTunes. Apple then reworked its software to keep RealNetworks’ songs and others off its devices.