Will Apple’s E-Book Defense Stick?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) went on trial on Monday over accusations by the U.S. Department of Justice that the company was the “ringmaster” of a cartel of publishers that conspired against Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) to raise the price of e-books. Though the judge presiding over the case, District judge Denise Cote, urged Apple to settle in the same way the other five publishers did, Tim Cook refused, saying, “We’ve done nothing wrong there, and so we’re taking a very principled position…We’re not going to sign something that says we did something we didn’t do.”

And Monday proved that Apple was not going down without a fight.

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Because the five other publishers involved in the accusations — HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and, Penguin — had already since settled the case, people were curious to see what evidence Apple could provide to prove its innocence, especially since Cote already contended that the government had direct proof that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated the conspiracy. But Apple didn’t see it that way. Instead, the company’s lawyer, Orin Snyder, saw the government suit as “bizarre,” using the same terminology that CEO Tim Cook used to describe the case.

The lawyer went on to contend, as reported by CNET, that this “is the first time in the history of antitrust laws that a new entrant coming into a concentrated market…is condemned.” He argued that rather than being condemned, Apple should be commended, and complained that too many people assume that when the U.S. government brings a case, it has merit, even if it had no evidence to assert otherwise.

But evidence was not the DOJ’s problem. Finding the right way to use it, was. The government brought forward Steve Jobs’ e-mail messages to his executives at Apple and in the publishing industry, his biographer, and others as “direct evidence” and “public admissions” that Apple was not only involved in the conspiracy, but was also the “chief ringmaster.”

However, Snyder rebutted this claim, condeming the DOJ for taking advantage of the fact that Jobs was not present to defend himself, and then deliberately spinning his words and taking them out of context.

According to AllThingsD, Snyder says, “There’s something inherently unfair and uncomfortable about placing such reliance on the out-of-court statements of someone who’s not here to explain them or place them into context — particularly when in almost every instance the government either omits key language to draw an inference, or blatantly mischaracterizes what the statements mean.”

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And what’s more, if Jobs really was guilty, would he really be so senseless to admit his guilt in the e-book price fixing scheme so publicly? It is hard to believe the genius CEO would make such a mistake.

The trial is scheduled to run for the next three weeks with more testimonies from Snyder and Apple attorney Kevin Saul.

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