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Judge: DoJ Has Plenty of Evidence Against Apple in Antitrust

By - Source: Reuters | B 18 comments

Judge Denise Cote already peeked at the evidence stacking up against Apple in the DoJ's eBook conspiracy lawsuit.

Reuters reports that U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, who is set to oversee the ebook conspiracy trial against Apple on June 3, expressed an early opinion that the Department of Justice will clearly be able to show that Apple conspired with five publishers to raise ebook prices. She glimpsed at a portion of the evidence on Thursday, but quickly noted that her pre-trial view was not a final verdict.

"I believe that the government will be able to show at trial direct evidence that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of ebooks, and that circumstantial evidence in this case, including the terms of the agreements, will confirm that," Cote said.

Naturally Apple doesn't share the same opinion. In fact, the company still doesn't think it's done anything wrong. "We strongly disagree with the court's preliminary statements about the case today," said Apple lawyer Orin Snyder.

Apple is the last to stand against the Department of Justice's accusations of conspiracy, abandoned by book publishers HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, Pearson’s Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster who settled with the Department of Justice and a number of states out of court. Macmillan was actually the last publisher to cave in, reporting on February 8 that the company could no longer afford to defend itself.

"Our company is not large enough to risk a worst case judgment," said Macmillan’s chief executive John Sargent in a letter to authors, illustrators and agents. "In this action the government accused five publishers and Apple of conspiring to raise prices. As each publisher settled, the remaining defendants became responsible not only for their own treble damages, but also possibly for the treble damages of the settling publishers (minus what they settled for). A few weeks ago I got an estimate of the maximum possible damage figure. I cannot share the breathtaking amount with you, but it was much more than the entire equity of our company."

Back in March, the Justice Department argued that Apple CEO Tim Cook likely has relevant information about the company's iPad-based entry into the ebook market in April 2010. It also argued that Cook likely had conversations about the ebook market with former Apple CEO Steve Jobs before he passed away a year later in 2011.

Naturally Snyder retaliated, saying that the Department of Justice was on a fishing expedition. But Judge Cote sided with the government agency, saying that the death of Jobs is a key reason for questioning Cook. "Because of that loss, I think the government is entitled to take testimony from high-level executives within Apple about topics relevant to the government case [as well as to counter Apple's defense arguments]," she said.

Last year the Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and the five publishers for conspiring to raise prices on ebooks. The publishers reportedly feared Amazon who was dominating the eBook market with its Kindle readers and low ebook prices. In preparation of launching the first iPad tablet, Apple supposedly suggested and then agreed to an Agency model – meaning the publishers set the eBook prices, not the retailer – but only if the publishers force other retailers to do the same. After the iPad launched, eBook prices began to inflate across the board.

Cook will reportedly be required to sit for a four-hour deposition. The case is United States v. Apple Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-02826.

This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    bllue , May 24, 2013 8:34 PM
    Beautiful. I wish to see Apple get RIGHTFULLY smacked down.
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    unknownzero33 , May 24, 2013 6:20 PM
    its about damn time...
  • -2 Hide
    danwat1234 , May 24, 2013 6:32 PM
    treble damages? What about bass damages?
  • Display all 18 comments.
  • 8 Hide
    thor220 , May 24, 2013 7:32 PM
    I hope that apple pays for this. I had to go to the bookstore because the e-book version off all my texts was more expensive, and that saying allot for spending around $600 a semester on books
  • 14 Hide
    bllue , May 24, 2013 8:34 PM
    Beautiful. I wish to see Apple get RIGHTFULLY smacked down.
  • 4 Hide
    Blessedman , May 24, 2013 8:40 PM
  • -4 Hide
    nlreynolds80 , May 24, 2013 8:55 PM
    As much as I'd like to see Apple get smacked with a good dose of karma, I'm not so sure I like this ocurring at the hands of the government.
  • 1 Hide
    house70 , May 24, 2013 9:21 PM
    Greedy bastardz about to get busted...
  • 1 Hide
    heero yuy , May 24, 2013 11:54 PM
    why can I never see all the comments?
  • 0 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , May 25, 2013 3:31 AM
    What kind of an idiot needs to publicly disagree with preliminary statements? Of course if you are going to court you "disagree" with anything that you are being accused of. Isn't that the point?
  • 2 Hide
    bryonhowley , May 25, 2013 5:05 AM
    Hope Apple gets what's coming. It should be obvious to any one with a brain that Apple is up to it's neck in this one with out question.
  • 2 Hide
    Shin-san , May 25, 2013 6:02 AM
    I wish I remembered the wording of one of those anti-monopoly spiels that Apple fanboys liked to do in the 90s
  • 0 Hide
    Kory Tarr , May 25, 2013 6:39 AM
    ishort the stock if iwasu
  • 1 Hide
    WhyFi , May 25, 2013 7:52 AM
    Ol' Tim has been spending a lot of time in courtrooms, lately.
  • 1 Hide
    Marcus52 , May 25, 2013 9:51 AM
    What I'm wondering is - why haven't prices for eBooks come down? the publishers are supposed to be out of the price-fixing business, but prices aren't lower.
    And, that's what is stopping me from buying into eBooks right now. I can get the paper books cheaper with a discount, why buy eBooks, which cost far less to produce, when I can buy something I like better for less money? eBook readers are very nice, convenient, and the biggest factor for me, don't require me to take up more space in my small living quarters, but I still prefer a real book.
    You are simply going to have to give me more incentive to switch than what there is at this point.
  • 0 Hide
    macpeteo , May 25, 2013 10:45 AM
    For those complaining about College book prices, I agree! But those prices were high and remain high for paper books! Apple has no say what the publishers charge for the paper books! College book prices are part of the "Education scam".
    As far as e-book College prices, well, for new revisions of the books price should be lower than what it was for the paper older version but for an e-book of an existing version, I cant see how it could be lower, someone has to convert those to digital format (maybe they already are in that format, we don't know).
    Bottom line, its the publishers that are ripping off the students just as much as the Professors!
  • 2 Hide
    Cazalan , May 25, 2013 3:47 PM
    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. You don't get to the top in a capitalistic society without breaking rules. You're actually rewarded for it because the fines are only a fraction of the profits.
  • -2 Hide
    computertech82 , May 25, 2013 5:31 PM
    So much for "free market".
  • 0 Hide
    john15v16 , May 28, 2013 9:35 AM
    ...It's about darn if we can reverse engineer the associated iHype...
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