Apple Faces Uphill Fight in Ebook Price-Fixing Trial
NEWS ANALYSIS: The DOJ uses Apple's own emails in its opening antitrust trial statement that charges the mobile-device maker conspired to set ebook prices.Apple appears to be fighting an uphill battle against the U.S. Department of Justice in a price-fixing case stemming from the introduction of the iPad in competition with a variety of e-readers. The DOJ's complaint against Apple and several book publishers alleges that Apple and the book publishers wanted higher profit and conspired to raise prices at the expense of ebook buyers and over the objections of online retailers such as Amazon. Apple is already on record as calling the government's case "bizarre." But Apple quickly settled when the European Union brought its own price-fixing charges. In the trial being held in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the judge in the case, Denise Cote, has already told Apple that she expects the DOJ to prevail, but allowed Apple to present its case. A significant portion of the government's case against Apple is drawn from the company's own email conversations, obtained by the DOJ in an e-discovery operation. The DOJ included many of the emails in a slide show that it presented as part of its opening trial statement on June 3.
Some of the emails include warnings to find ways to hide activities from the government, including a warning from executives at one publisher to "double-delete" the email in which the book companies conspired to withhold ebooks from publication as a way to raise prices.