So rarely do we see the complete dismantling of a witness in an otherwise dull tech trial. However, Apple’s defense lawyer last week dissected a Google executive’s claim of a conversation with publishers indicating Apple required they all sign on to an agency contract.
On the stand, Google’s Thomas Turvey admitted a direct conversation with the publishers he earlier told the court likely never happened.
Not only does the testimony from Google’s director of strategic partnerships make it appear the Apple rival is just out to get its competitor, but it throws a wet blanket on an antitrust case which up to yesterday was going the way of the Department of Justice.
However, the weighty issue of whether Apple’s e-book agency pricing model restricted competition was overshadowed by the legal showdown and witness meltdown…
As head of Google’s strategic partnerships, Turvey’s testimony was designed to lend a big tech name to the government’s assertion that Apple, along with several publishers, conspired to set ebook pricing.
A win could pick the leader in the e-book battle now being fought amongst Apple, Amazon and, oh, yes, Google. But instead, Turvey’s claims fell apart under the withering attack of Apple’s Orin Snyder.
Snyder questioned Turvey’s 2010 written claim that representatives of the five publishing houses spoke directly with him, saying they “told him directly that they were switching to the agency model because contracts they entered into with Apple required it,” reports The Verge.
After admitting that the 2010 court statement was partially written by his lawyer, and he wasn’t sure which were his own words, Turvey’s memory became even dimmer.
Under Snyder’s questioning, Turvey acknowledged that he couldn’t remember a single name of any of the publishing executives who had told him Apple was the reason the publishers were switching their business model.
He conceded that the publishers’ move to the agency system was important to Google’s own business, yet Turvey couldn’t remember any details about the conversations with publishers.
By the end of the interview Turvey had gone from saying the publishers had told him directly, to saying they had merely told people on his team, to finally saying the publishers ‘likely’ told someone on his team.”
In a telling moment, Southern District Court Judge Denise Cote adjourned for the day. “Let’s allow Mr. Turvey to escape so he can enjoy his Thursday.”