Steve Jobs' frank emails could cost Apple serious money

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Steve Jobs' Frank Emails Could Cost Apple Serious Money

A nearly-decade-old class action lawsuit against Apple is finally about to go to court, and the star witness for the plaintiffs will be the man synonymous with the company, Apple's late founder and CEO Steve Jobs.

The plaintiffs accuse Apple of using unfair business practices to establish a monopoly in digital music back in the mid-2000s.

Basically, they claim if an iPod owner bought digital music from anywhere other than iTunes, Apple sabotaged their ability to play that music on their device, deliberately stifling competition.
Apple has always maintained that any updates it issued to the iPod were for the benefit of customers. It says the fact that they also blocked the ability to play music from a competitor was an unintended side effect and not Apple's problem.

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Steve Jobs' frank emails could cost Apple serious money
FILE - In this Aug. 4, 2005 file photo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs speaks during a launch event for Apple's music download service, iTunes, in Tokyo. A billion-dollar class-action lawsuit over Apple’s iPod music players heads to trial in a California federal court Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in an antitrust case where the legal wrangling has lasted far longer than the technology that sparked the complaint. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)
FILE - This July 16, 2010 photo shows Apple's Tim Cook, left, and Steve Jobs, right, during a meeting at Apple in Cupertino, Calif. Apple’s potential purchase of headphone maker Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion is just the latest example of how much Cook has deviated from Jobs, who had so much confidence in his company’s innovative powers that he saw little sense in spending a lot of money on acquisitions. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
An attendee displays the new Apple Inc. iPhone 6, left, and iPhone 6 Plus for a photograph after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The silhouettes of attendees are seen after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Apple Watch is displayed after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Apple Watch is displayed after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Apple Watch is displayed after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An attendee displays the new Apple Inc. iPhone 6 for a photograph as the iPhone 6 Plus is displayed after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Attendees look at a display of the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Attendees take pictures of the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: The new iPhone 6 is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: The new iPhone 6 is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: The new iPhone 6 is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Musician Gwen Stefani stands next to a display of the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple announced the new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The new Apple Inc. iPhone 6 is displayed after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Apple CEO Tim Cook (L) talks with an attendee during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple announced the new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Attendees inspect the new iPhone 6 during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The new Apple Inc. iPhone 6 is displayed after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Apple Watch is displayed after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: An attendee inspects the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: An attendee inspects the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Attendees record a display of the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Musician Gwen Stefani stands next to a display of the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple announced the new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Apple CEO Tim Cook explains how the Apple Watch works in conjunction with Apple Pay during an announcements of new products on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A model shows the use of an Apple Watch for exercise use on a treadmill during an announcement of new products on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The new Apple Watch is shown by a model on a treadmill during a new product release on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Apple CEO Tim Cook, holding an IPhone 6 Plus, discusses the new Apple Watch and iPhone 6s on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The new Apple Watch is shown during a new product release on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The new Apple Watch is shown during a new product release on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
An attendee demonstrates the Apple Watch after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: A member of the media inspects the new iPhone 6 during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The Apple Watch is displayed after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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But The New York Times' Brian Chen says Apple's lawyers will have a tough time, because Steve Jobs was ... let's say loose-lipped in his emails.

One already-public email from Jobs in 2003 says, "We need to make sure that when Music Match launches their download music store they cannot use iPod. ... Is this going to be an issue?"Musicmatch was a competing online music store.

The case is expected to produce more emails and a videotaped deposition given by Jobs before his death in 2011, as well as testimonies from current executives. Apple could be on the hook for $350 million if the court rules against it, which, in all honesty, isn't much for the $700 billion company.
But it's part of a troubling pattern for Apple: the words of its late founder have been turned against the company in court more than once.

Over the summer, Apple agreed to pay $400 million to e-book customers after the Department of Justice won an antitrust suit. The suit claimed Apple colluded with e-book publishers to raise prices.
A widely-circulated email from Jobs was used as evidence in that case.

Apple is also part of an upcoming lawsuit involving several Silicon Valley companies about so-called "no poaching" agreements. Plaintiffs say big tech companies quietly agreed not to hire each other's workers in an effort to hold down wages. Jobs has already made an appearance in that case, too.

The Apple visionary's lack of filter was famous and often entertaining. There are "best of" lists all over the web with some of his most curt emails, like telling an angry customer who spilled water on his laptop, "It sounds like you're just looking for someone to get mad at other than yourself."

But when all is said and done, that refreshing candor might wind up costing the company almost a billion dollars if all three cases go against it, which, even for Apple, is no laughing matter.

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