Official: Apple’s boss Tim Cook to testify for four hours in e-books trial

Tim Cook holds iPad (with Katie Cotton, Jacqui Cheng)

This past Sunday, Bloomberg reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook may be required to testify in an antitrust lawsuit the United States Department of Justice filed against it and major e-book publishers over an alleged price fixing of e-books. Reuters confirms today that U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan granted the Justice Department’s request to compel Cook to sit for a deposition.

The Judge said the death of Jobs was a key reason in ordering the deposition. Cook will be testifying for four hours in the lawsuit, a risky move for the CEO and potentially damaging to Apple. The Cupertino company is now the main target of the suit after all named publishers had settled with regulators…

According to Reuters:

The government had argued Cook likely had relevant information about Apple’s entry into the e-books market. It also said Cook likely had conversations related to e-books with former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who died in 2011.

Apple called Cook’s testimony “cumulative and duplicative,” reminding the court that the government had already deposed eleven other Apple executives.

Judge Cole wasn’t impressed and sited late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs death as a key reason in ordering the deposition. “Because of that loss,” Cole said, “I think the government is entitled to take testimony from high-level executives within Apple about topics relevant to the government case.”

Rather than request damages, the government wants to establish that Apple violated antitrust law so it could order the company not to engage in similar conduct in the future.

The Government alleges Apple conspired with major e-book publishers to fix prices on the iBookstore by demanding they don’t undercut iBookstore pricing on competing stores. Publishers who agreed to Apple’s policy simply raised e-book prices on Amazon, prompting DoJ to intervene and file an antitrust lawsuit in April 2012.

A trial is set for June 2013.

A trial is set for June. The government is not requesting damages but is seeking a finding that Apple violated antitrust law and an order blocking it from engaging in similar conduct.