Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s trial on e-book price fixing continues today as the tech giant tries to prove that it did not collaborate with publishers to fix prices.
Apple Trial Continues Today
When Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) appears in court again today, Eddy Cue is expected to take the stand and testify in the case. Bloomberg Businessweek’s Bob Van Voris and Adam Satariano report that the DoJ has referred to Cue as “the chief ringleader.” Cue has been the company’s main negotiator, both for its past e-book pricing plan and also most recently as it worked with record companies for deals in connection with Apple’s iTunes Radio service. His testimony today will focus on his talks with the six largest publishers in the U.S. in late 2009 and early 2010.
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The DoJ is alleging that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), led by Cue, pushed five out of those six publishers into raising their prices on e-books and also pressured Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) to opt for an agency pricing model instead of the wholesale one it had been using.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is denying any conspiracy, although the five publishers that were also accused in the case settled with the DoJ already. A judge alone will be deciding the outcome of the trial without a jury.
The DoJ’s Latest Evidence Against Apple
CNET’s Steven Musil reports that on Wednesday, the Department of Justice presented an email from former CEO Steve Jobs, which it claims proves that Apple was the ringleader of the alleged e-book price fixing scheme.
However, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) said that the email was just a draft, and it presented what it said was the final version of that email, which was sent from Jobs to Eddy Cue. In the email presented by the DoJ, Jobs expressed a concern that Apple might not be able to be competitive in e-book publishing if they didn’t move Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) “to the agent model too for new releases for the first year.”
Apple’s Response To The DOJ’s Evidence
The email Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) showed off was much longer than the two-line message presented by the DoJ. It starts with the same part of the first sentence, but then it goes into further illustration about wholesale pricing for e-books. “The retail price they will set for any book will be the LOWER of the applicable “iTunes” price below OR the lowest wholesale price that offer the book to at anyone else, with our wholesale price being 70% of that price for the book,” Jobs’ email states.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) also showed the email from Cue that Jobs was allegedly responding to. It includes a breakdown of possible e-book pricing and sets a stage for the reader to understand where the conversation was before Jobs’ response.