Judge Denise Cote says the U.S Department of Justice could likely be able to prove that Apple did collude with major book publishers to inflate the prices of e-books sold in the iBookstore. The remark came in a rare pre-trial “tentative view.” Apple, to no one’s surprise disagreed with the judges statement.
According to in-court reports from Reuters, Judge Cote offered her view at a hearing for the court trial set for June 3, saying she came to the tentative conclusion after looking over a portion of the evidence.
“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 e-books, and that the circumstantial evidence in this case, including the terms of the agreements, will confirm that,” Judge Cote said.
The judge was quick to note that the opinion was not final as all of the evidence had yet to be accounted for.
The judge’s statements, while unusual, did not come unsolicited. DOJ lawyer Mark Ryan requested her thoughts on the case as it was reflected by the evidence at hand. Her view was based mostly on correspondence from a six-week period between December 2009 and January 2010.
We strongly disagree with the court’s preliminary statements about the case today,” Apple counsel Orin Snyder said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to presenting our evidence in open court and proving that Apple did not conspire to fix prices.”
At the trial, Apple is expected to argue that it did not collude with book publishers to raise e-book prices under a so-called “agency model” pricing agreement. Under the deal, publishers are allowed to set the prices of owned content, but were not allowed to sell them elsewhere for less.