FORTUNE -- Testifying in the e-book antitrust trial last June, Apple's (AAPL) senior vice president Eddy Cue estimated that in the 24 years he's been signing up digital content for the company he's negotiated not hundreds or thousands but tens of thousands of contracts.
In the case that put him on the stand last June -- as star witness for both Apple and the DOJ's antitrust division -- he was negotiating e-book rights with publishers using what he described as his usual modus operandi: Setting a deadline, offering identical terms to all the players, and keeping each of them apprised of how close Apple was to the critical mass it would need to enter a new market.
In the Bloomberg story that got so much play Wednesday -- Apple Said to Plan New TV Box Amid Time Warner Cable Talks -- Cue is back on stage in a scene with all the same dramatic elements.
This time Apple seems to be trying to herd video producers and cable operators into deals timed to the unveiling of the next version of the Apple TV set-top box, reportedly in April. It remains to be seen whether Steve Jobs' little "hobby" is ready to graduate into a device worthy of the new treatment it's getting on Apple's online store, where it's featured as the fifth product line, right there alongside the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac.
What gives Cue's reappearance special poignancy at this juncture is that Apple -- having fiercely resisted the inquiries of Michael Bromwich, an antitrust monitor who by his own admission wanted to "crawl into" the company and interview all its board members and top executives, including Cue -- just got an appellate court to rein the monitor in.
Bromwich was assigned the task by Judge Denise Cote. She's the U.S. district judge who decided last July that Apple had conspired to fix the price of e-books and that Cue, despite his denials, was the conspiracy's ringmaster. (Apple has appealed her decision).
In her 160-page ruling, Judge Cote made it clear that she did not find Cue's testimony particularly credible. On the contrary. "Cue's denial of prior knowledge of Sargent's trip to Amazon," she wrote at one point, "was particularly brazen."
Did Cote suspect that Cue might be up to his old tricks? Did she hope that Bromwich, by crawling inside company, might find out?
Perhaps. What we do know is that Eddy Cue has been a busy man, and that Apple, for whatever reason, has fought hard to keep the antitrust monitor out of his hair.
A "weird and fascinating grudge match" had its first day in a higher court.
FORTUNE -- No one did a better job setting up the "tangled mess" that a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit faced Tuesday morning than my Fortune colleague Roger Parloff.
We're in the middle rounds of the e-book antitrust case. The issue Tuesday pitted Apple (AAPL) against District Court Judge Denise Cote, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 4, 2014 3:52 AM ET
Held to 5 pages by Judge Cote, one critic blasted the DOJ with pictures worth 5,000 words.
FORTUNE -- I missed this legal curio when it was filed back in Sept. 2012 by an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case of U.S.A. v. Apple et al. But it caught the eye of both the New York Times' Media Decoder blog and the legal website Above the Law, and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 7, 2013 12:36 PM ET
Tempers flared and motions flew when Apple balked at $138,432 for two weeks work.
FORTUNE -- My colleague Roger Parloff has posted a fascinating back-channel account of the rapidly deteriorating relations between Apple (AAPL) and Michael Bromwich, its court-appointed e-book antitrust monitor.
The trigger, as it so often is, was money.
"On October 24," Parloff reports, "Apple liaison [Kyle] Andeer angered Bromwich by sending him an email questioning Bromwich's proposed $1,100 hourly fee and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 3, 2013 12:23 PM ET
The $138,432 he charged for his first two weeks on the job is the least of Apple's objections.
FORTUNE -- Michael Bromwich is driving Apple (AAPL) crazy.
This should not come as a surprise. Bromwich, appointed by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote last month to make sure Apple does everything she ordered when she found Apple guilty of conspiring to fix the price of e-books, is an old hand at this kind of MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 29, 2013 11:20 AM ET
Apple escapes the most intrusive elements of the government's proposed remedies.
FORTUNE -- Judge Denise Cote issued her final order in the Apple (AAPL) e-book antitrust case late Thursday.
From the company's point of view, it could have been a lot worse.
The order prohibits Apple from engaging in the kind of negotiations or structuring the kinds of deals that resulted in five of the big six publishers ganging up on Amazon (AMZN) in MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 6, 2013 10:18 AM ET
Lawyers have complained for years that she pre-judges cases before she enters the courtroom.
FORTUNE -- To her credit, the remedies U.S. DIstrict Judge Denise Cote proposed last week to prevent Apple (AAPL) from ever again conspiring to fix e-book prices were far less draconian (and frankly bizarre) than the ones the Department of Justice had requested. See DOJ remedies.
But the air of unreality that permeated her earlier decision in the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 14, 2013 6:19 AM ET
Three cases in three venues, but the one in the Federal Appeals Court mattered most.
FORTUNE -- Friday was a busy day for Apple (AAPL) legal.
In a District Court in New York, the judge who found Apple liable for antitrust violations in the e-book price fixing case denied -- unsurprisingly, given her past rulings -- Apple's petition to suspend consideration of remedies and penalties until its appeal of her decision could MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 10, 2013 7:39 AM ET
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