Apple, which is on trial for orchestrating a price cartel on ebooks, has closed its arguments by threatening grave consequences if it does not get its way.
Apple said that an adverse ruling against it would have a “chilling effect” on how businesses investigate new markets.
According to NDTV Gadgets, the company’s lawyer, Orin Snyder, said that if Apple was found guilty, it would “send shudders through the business community”.
It would condemn the ordinary negotiations that companies undertake to enter new markets, he warned.
“A ruling against Apple sets a dangerous precedent,” Snyder warned.
Outsiders agree. It means that companies will not be allowed to collude with others to fix prices and arrogantly brag about it in public.
The trial heard evidence that Apple’s antics with the book publishers did raise the price of books for consumers generally.
This is more or less what Steve Jobs bragged about in his biography.
The trial heard evidence that Apple conspired with US publishers beginning in late 2009 to increase the price of ebooks in an effort to undercut the pricing established by then-dominant Amazon.com. The publishers have settled with the government.
US district judge Denise Cote was not giving Apple an easy time. She had already warned that before the case had opened the DoJ had produced enough paper evidence to prove a price cartel.
Now she has asked if it was correct that Apple “understood publishers were willing to work together to put pressure on Amazon”.
Snyder insisted that there was no evidence Apple understood the publishers were allegedly conspiring together before it proposed creating an online bookstore for its coming iPad.
He said that Apple had no idea the publishing executives were calling each other and having dinners together.
Snyder claimed that there was no such thing as a conspiracy by telepathy.
The Justice Department is not seeking damages against Apple. It wants Apple to be prohibited from the agency model for two years and a five year prohibition against the use of price-parity contract clauses at the centre of the case, among other remedies.
If the government wins, there will be a separate trial which would be held on damage claims asserted by 33 state attorney generals whose case on liability was also being heard during the last few weeks.