Apple CEO Tim Cook will give a deposition in the DoJ's e-book price-fixing case. After a teleconference yesterday, Judge Denise Cote issued an order compelling Cook to answer U.S. attorneys questions, although the DoJ has agreed to limit the deposition to four hours, and to share questions with Cook ahead of time.
The ruling comes after U.S. Attorneys asked Cote to compel Cook's testimony. In a March 6 letter to the court, U.S. attorney Lawrence Buterman said that Cook was the only “defendant CEO that has not agreed to be deposed” and argued that Cook, as “an executive team member” and a “confidant” of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs was likely to have “highly relevant information” about Apple’s decision to enter the e-book market and its strategies.
Apple attorneys, meanwhile, had asked Cote to issue a protective order shielding Cook from being deposed. Apple attorneys argued that Cook has no “unique knowledge” of Apple’s e-book strategy and “recalls” no relevant conversations with Steve Jobs. Attorneys argued that the court record confirms Cook’s non-involvement, as none of the 29 witnesses has testified to Cook’s involvement, and none of publisher witnesses have even mentioned Cook in their depositions. In their response, Apple attorneys noted that 11 Apple executives have already been deposed or have agreed to be deposed, including Eddy Cue, the executive who oversaw the launch of the iBookstore who was scheduled to give testimony this week.
The sprawling case now goes all the way to the top, and while Cook may indeed have little direct knowledge of Apple's entry into the e-book business, it is yet another sign of how complicated and costly litigating the Department of Justice's price-fixing charges is turning out to be. At least 29 witnesses have sat for depositions thus far, and according to Apple attorneys, the company has already has produced over 3.6 million pages of documents for the case, while the publisher defendants have produced nearly five million more pages. A trial is still set to begin in June.