Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

U.S.A. v. Apple Day 1: Calling Eddy Cue

June 3, 2013: 1:34 PM ET

Apple's vice president for internet services emerges as the key witness for both sides.

Cue and Jobs. Photo: EU.

Cue and Jobs. Photo: EU.

FORTUNE -- Apple's (AAPL) e-book antitrust trial began Monday and it quickly became clear that the case will revolve around Eddy Cue -- Steve Jobs' point man in the negotiations with publishers that the Department of Justice claims was an illegal conspiracy to raise the price of e-books.

The government's opening statement -- delivered before a packed courthouse and a spillover crowd on another floor -- consisted primarily of a chronology of e-mail exchanges between Cue and the six book publishers, between Cue and Jobs, his boss, and between individual publishers talking about Cue. They constituted direct evidence, according to Lawrence Buterman, a DOJ co-counsel, that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated a plot to violate the Sherman antitrust act.

Apple's opening statement -- once its lead attorney, Orin Snyder, got through asking the judge to "hit the delete" button on the opinion she offered at a pre-trial hearing that the government had already proved its case  -- tried to pull the rug out from under everything the DOJ had just presented. Cue, Snyder claims, was just trying to break into a crowded e-book market (one dominated by Amazon) using precisely the same approach he used when he got the company into the music market with iTunes and the applications market with the App Store. Those innovations poured billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, he said. "Apple should be applauded, not condemned."

By the end of the morning session the only thing everyone in that courtroom knew for certain was the Cue's testimony would be key. But we're going to have to wait. He's not scheduled to testify until June 13.

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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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