As the Department of Justice trial against Apple charging that the company was the “ringleader” in a conspiracy to fix e-book prices begins today in New York, all five publishers accused of conspiring with the company have settled their cases, although executives from those houses, along with officials from Random House, Apple and Amazon, are all expected to testify. In a pretrial hearing, judge Denise Cote, said she her “tentative view” is that the government will be successful in proving its charges. Indeed, in her written decision approving the first three publisher settlements, delivered in September, 2012, Cote deemed the matter a “straightforward price-fixing case,” and found “a sufficient factual foundation” to establish the conspiracy. And Apple’s case will hinge on much of that same evidence.
For Apple, though, accused of being the leader of the conspiracy, settling is not a viable option. Although a loss at trial would expose Apple to significant money damages, writing a big check wouldn’t be that painful for the company, currently sitting on billions in cash. For Apple, having the Department of Justice monitoring its digital business is the nightmare scenario.
The trial is expected to take from one to two weeks and PW will have first-hand accounts of the proceedings.