Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple's day in court

June 3, 2013: 5:14 AM ET

Nearly 14 months after the DOJ sued Apple, the e-book antitrust case is going to trial.

The courthouse.

The Daniel P. Moynihan federal courthouse.

FORTUNE -- One of the big unanswered questions about the trial that opens Monday in a Manhattan federal courthouse is why Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook hasn't already settled the case.

When Attorney General Eric Holder sued Apple and five book publishers in April 2012 for allegedly conspiring against Amazon (AMZN) to raise the price of e-books, three of Apple's co-defendants had already cut a deal with the Department of Justice. By February the last two holdouts had done so as well.

As part of their settlements, the publishers agreed to let Amazon go back to selling e-books for $9.99, if that's what it wanted to do, and to terminate the so-called "most-favored nation" deal they had cut with Steve Jobs that had the effect of forcing Amazon to match Apple's higher prices.

That leaves only Apple to defend contracts that the publishers have long-since abandoned.

Moreover, the judge who will decide the case -- there is no jury -- has already said in open court that she believes the evidence shows Apple "knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books."

So why is Tim Cook still contesting this lawsuit?

Asked about it an industry conference last week, he took the kind of principled stance only the CEO of a company with $145 billion in the bank can afford:

"We refuse to sign a settlement that says we did something we didn't do. So we're going to fight it."

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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