The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday called Google director Thomas Turvey to the stand on Thursday in its antitrust e-book price fixing case against Apple. However, the executive’s testimony seemed to weaken the government’s case against the Cupertino firm.
In hopes of bolstering its case against Apple, the Justice Department looked to Google’s director of strategic partnerships Thomas Turvey, who previously stated in written testimony that publishers had told him Apple was the reason they were switching to agency model pricing, reports The Verge.
Apple is accused of conspiring with five major book publishers to fix e-book prices via use of what is known as an agency model. That system allows content owners to set pricing under what is known as a most favored nations clause. This then denies them the ability to sell the same content to other retailers at a lower price.
The DoJ argues that the alleged collusion diminished the ability for other book resellers, like Amazon, to compete with Apple’s iBookStore. The Justice Department called Turvey to the stand in an attempt to show how Apple’s agreements with the publishers negatively impacted the e-book marketplace. Turvey had previously claimed to possess evidence that would suggest Apple forced the publishers to move to the agency model.
However, once Turvey was on the stand, Apple lawyer Orin Snyder began to slowly chip away at the Google executive’s written testimony.
In his statement, Turvey claimed representatives from publishers told him directly that in 2010 they were switching to the agency model because Apple required them to do so in its iBookStore contracts. However, it came out in court that Turvey had drafted the statement with the assistance of his lawyers, and the exec was unsure exactly who wrote the allegations.
As his time on the stand continued, Turvey’s recollections became vague and unreliable, as he was unable to recall the names of the publishing reps referred to in the document. The Google exec also agreed that the switch to the agency model by publishers did affect Google’s business dealings, but he couldn’t remember details of meetings about the matter.
The Verge reports that, by the end of Turvey’s interview, he had moved from saying that publisher reps had spoken to him directly, to admitting that they had “likely” told someone on his staff about Apple’s tactics.
The trial continues on Friday, with more testimony expected from Turvey.