Apple to Face Possible May 2014 Trial on E-Book Damages
A recently issued order by U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote notes that all parties must be ready for a damages trial tentatively scheduled for May 2014. For those of you who didn’t know, Judge Denise Cote is the person presiding over the Justice Department’s antitrust case against Apple’s e-book pricing policies. She previously found Apple guilty of conspiring with five major U.S. book publishers to raise the price of e-books sold through the iBookstore, an allegation lodged against the company by the Department of Justice.
At the time of her decision, the jurist didn’t set a court date to decide possible damages that could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. The plaintiffs included not only the DOJ but also 33 U.S. states and territories.
The recent order, which was originally reported by Reuters
, outlines the parties’ upcoming schedule to argue damages against Apple. The plaintiffs are required to identify experts and expert testimony by October 11, 2013, while Apple must do the same by November 15. Expert discovery will conclude by December 13, which is the same day that class certification is due.
The case has currently been placed on the May 2014 “trial ready” calendar, meaning by that time, parties must be ready to begin proceedings on 24 hours’ notice. Following the guilty verdict, the DOJ proposed settlement terms that would require Apple to terminate existing contracts and bar any further agency model deals for five years not only in the e-books market but also with other content including music and video. The last provision was seen as overreaching as it would extend the proposal’s scope beyond the iBookstore and into the iTunes Store.
Apple called the measures a “draconian and punitive intrusion” on its iBookstore business. The five book publishers that were associated with the case: HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group and Macmillan also opposed the DOJ’s proposal, saying it would hurt them more than Apple. All five of the publishers settled before the trial began. Judge Cote previously proposed a different settlement plan that would stagger Apple’s deals with the five book publishers to prevent further price fixing allegations but no further news has come of the ordeal.
We’ll have to wait and see how things turn out.