Print 34 comment(s) - last by robinthakur.. on Oct 17 at 7:37 AM

A comparison between the Luxpro Super Tangent and the Apple Shuffle reveals them to look relatively similar in design. However, Luxpro's other products look relatively different from Apple's. Luxpro accuses Apple of using thuggish tactics and its monopolistic position to force it out of the market. It is seeking unspecified damages.  (Source: InformationWeek)
Another day, another suit for Apple

The new Apple has built itself on its iconic MP3 player, which grew to a commanding market share and now holds roughly 90 percent of the hard drive-based MP3 player market and 70 percent of the total MP3 player market.  This dominant position has led many; including readers at DailyTech to suggest that it has a monopoly on the market and may be abusing its position.  Now a Taiwanese competitor, Luxpro has accused Apple of holding an abusive monopoly, formerly filing charges in Arkansas court.

Luxpro has had a lengthy and heated legal war against Apple over the last few years.  The company was originally founded in December of 2002.  In January of 2004 it released its first product -- the EZ Share MP3 player.  Following its minor success, Luxpro proceeded to introduce new players.  In March, 2005, at the CeBit trade show in Hanover, Germany it unveiled its new model, the Super Shuffle MP3 player.

Apple was not happy.  Not only did the new player sound suspiciously like its iPod Shuffle in name, but it also resembled the first generation iPod Shuffle design in form factor.  Apple sought an injunction against Luxpro to prevent its sale.  After a German court granted the injunction, Luxpro responded by renaming its player the "Super Tangent".

Unable to force the upstart company out of the market by legal means, Luxpro claims Apple resorted to thuggish tactics to put it out of business.  It "
engaged a third-party to purchase a Super Tangent from LuxPro" and also obtained copies of two proprietary Luxpro price lists.  Luxpro claims that Apple then began to send it threatening letters, demanding that it remove its players from the market.

Apple has already lost once to Luxpro.  Apple sought another injunction in
July 2005 in Shihlin District Court in Taipei.  The battle was hard fought and the injunction was eventually granted.  However, it was relatively quickly overturned on a spirited appeal by Luxpro.  A frustrated Apple took its efforts to stomp out the competitor to the Taiwanese Supreme Court, only to lose.

Emboldened by its victory announced
January, 2007, it decided it would take the fight to Apple.  It announced that it would be $100M USD in damages.  That complaint has at last been filed in U.S. court.  It is not seeking a specific amount of damages with the current filing but now is requesting damages "determined by a jury trial, plus attorneys' fees".

Luxpro calls Apple "
abusive" and says that it used its dominant position to "stomp out competition".  It not only accuses Apple of aggressive tactics towards Luxpro, but also towards its suppliers and partners.

According to the complaint, "
While Apple's over-reaching injunctions were on appeal, Apple sent warning letters to other companies doing business with Luxpro demanding that they cease doing business with Luxpro.  For example, Apple placed significant pressure on InterTAN, a subsidiary of U.S.-based consumer electronics giant Circuit City, to drop Luxpro's MP3 players from its retail shelves."

Indeed, it is reported that in
September, 2005 InterTAN destroyed 4,500 Luxpro players.  It also stopped placing orders with the company, says Luxpro.  Luxpro adds that after the InterTAN rejection Radio Shack and Best Buy also stopped doing business with it.

According to the complaint, Apple also unsuccessfully issued similar demands to
Singapore's Orchard Company, Japan's Kaga Electronics, and Germany's Web Worker.  It also claimed that suppliers ASUSTek Computer and Synnex Technology International were urged by Apple to pressure Luxpro's distributors, including Carrefour, ET Mall, EUPA, and 3C.

If Luxpro wins, it could open the floodgate for a plethora of other suits, as Apple has reportedly forced many smaller competitors out of the market, through various tactics.

Apple has refused to comment on the case.

Aside from its corporate and class action suits pending, Apple also is subjecting to an ongoing antitrust investigation by the European Union.  The EU, which takes a tougher stance on antitrust issues, has indicated that Apple and its iTunes software may have an abusive monopoly on the MP3 player or online music market.

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RE: wow
By Iger on 10/16/2008 11:20:36 AM , Rating: 3
Well, personally, I like Cowon's iAudio 7 much better with support for ogg, flac and wma, and without support for the oh-god-I-hate-it iTunes...
On the side note it would be funny to see Apple to try to push Microsoft off the market, by sending e-mails to the shops - it's definitely easier to push around some small company...
On the other side note the resemblance between the players is quite striking, but I'm not sure you can patent the "look" of mp3 player?

RE: wow
By Adul on 10/16/2008 11:31:01 AM , Rating: 3
I really like the cowan line of players as well. My brother just bought the 4GB cowan D2 with SDHC card slot. Touch screen, frequent firmware updates and excellent sound. He's very happy with his purchase.

RE: wow
By InvertMe on 10/16/2008 12:29:04 PM , Rating: 4
I have a 16GB Cowon D2 and love it. Only complaint is the lack of accessories. I love the flash player and have written a hand full of apps for it. I tested 2 iPods in my day (I almost bought one) but they always are missing something I want, quality seems low and of course... itunes blows.

RE: wow
By Omega215D on 10/16/2008 12:46:28 PM , Rating: 2
I plan on picking up the Cowon S9 which has a capacitive touch AMOLED screen which should be really sweet. I am happy with my D2 but their firmware needs updating and actually doing stuff Cowon owners want:

Apple players are really overpriced for what they are. They have a mediocre sound chip, mediocre screens compared to other players in the price range and they don't support enthusiast formats though I guess it's all about show and little go.

RE: wow
By AnnihilatorX on 10/16/2008 1:22:03 PM , Rating: 2
My friend just bought a Cowon D2 and he said it's his best spent of money in his entire life.

RE: wow
By sprockkets on 10/16/2008 1:37:41 PM , Rating: 2
Same here. In fact, even though not mentioned, it can play aac files, in fact, every version of them. Even apple's ipods do not mention support for HE-aac, or version 2. Just make sure the extension is aac.

Hey ipod, got TV out? Recording from 32kbps to 256kbps WMA from the radio and line in? Voice recording? FM without a $50 attachment? Flash UI customizations? Notepad? Language dictionary?

Hey, in Korea, they have DVB, and the D2 there has a digital video tuner accessory to watch and listen to digital tv (think HDTV specially formated for portable tvs) and digital music (think HDRadio except without the proprietary crap and licensing)

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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