Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

The Apple e-book antitrust case: The final four days

June 17, 2013: 5:47 AM ET

The DOJ will rest its case. Apple will present its defense. Summations on Thursday.

Cue leaving federal court on Thursday. AP Photo.

Cue leaving federal court on Thursday. AP Photo.

FORTUNE -- Eddy Cue, the alleged "ringmaster" of a conspiracy to raise e-book prices in 2010, returns to a Manhattan federal court Monday in the final four days of the Department of Justice's antitrust case against Apple (AAPL). 

Having sailed through a grilling Thursday by the government's lawyer, the star witness of U.S.A. v. Apple will complete the friendly questioning that Apple's chief counsel began Thursday afternoon.

Among the topics they are expected to cover Monday are a dinner with Macmillan's CEO that the government finds suspicious and a "smoking gun" e-mail from Steve Jobs to Cue that the DOJ entered into evidence but which according to Cue's testimony was never sent.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote will probably have a few questions for Cue, and the DOJ may re-cross, but then the government will rest its case, and it will be Apple's turn to present its defense.

The witnesses on Apple's list:

  • Rob McDonald is the head of Apple's U.S. iBookstore. His name came up early in the trial when he arranged Cue's first meetings with the Big Six book publishers in December 2009.
  • Eric Gray, Apple's director of operations of iTunes, can talk about the e-book pricing scheme that Apple worked out with the publishers.
  • Theresa Horner is the head of digital content at Barnes & Noble (BKS), the No. 2 publisher of e-books after Amazon. B&N was losing a fortune in 2009 trying to match Amazon's $9.99 bestsellers, and it was talking to publishers about how they might raise e-book prices even before Apple arrived on the scene.
  • Dr. Michelle Burtis, an expert witness from Cornerstone Research, is expected to testify that e-book prices are lower on average, e-book output is higher, and e-reader devices are more advanced technologically since Apple entered the market.
  • Dr. Ben Klein, professor emeritus of economics from UCLA, will testify that the effects of Apple's price-matching agreements were so small that they could not, as a matter of economics, compel the publishers to renegotiate their Amazon (AMZN) contracts.
  • Dr. Kevin M. Murphy, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, is expected to testify that the Supreme Court's decision in Monsanto v. Spray-Rite means the government cannot make their conspiracy case unless they can exclude the possibility that Apple was acting in its own economic self-interest.

There isn't much time to squeeze them all in. Thursday has been set aside for summations, and then Judge Cote will have to write her decision. The best estimate I've heard for how long she'll need is three weeks, give or take a week.

For background on the case, see:

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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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