Apple Defiant in Closing Statement for Ebook Antitrust Case

Apple's attorneys were defiant during their closing statement in the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust lawsuit. Both sides delivered closing statements on Thursday, though Apple's lead attorney Orin Snyder took two and a half hours to deliver his, while the DOJ's attorneys spent just 90 minutes.

iBooks Trial

The case has taken many ups and downs in the three weeks of testimony, with a preponderance of outside observers opining that Apple's attorneys shot many holes through the plaintiff's arguments. In Thursday's closing statements, Mr. Snyder took to the offense, arguing that Apple, "walked into the middle of this e-book revolt" and was simply pursuing standard business negotiations.

According to The L.A. Times, Mr. Snyder also argued that a guilty verdict from Judge Denise Cote, who is presiding over the bench trial, would chill and confound business in the U.S. He accused the government of relying on inference and innuendo, rather than direct evidence, to present its case.

"All of the government's evidence is ambiguous at best," he said, adding that, "There's no such thing as conspiracy by telepathy."

The Washington Post added that Mr. Snyder said, “The government is taking perfectly sensible business agreements to infer sinister conduct. If Apple is found liable [...] that precedent will send shudders throughout the business community."

In his coverage of the closing statements, Fortune's Philip Elmer-Dewitt suggested that Apple threw the five publishers originally accused with Apple under the bus. Those five publishers settled before the trial began, but they still played a role in the trial against Apple (as Apple didn't settle).

When Judge Cote asked Mr. Snyder if he thought the publishers had conspired, he said, "I literally have no idea."

When pushed on the same subject later in his closing statement, he said, "We don't concede any aspect of the government's burden of proof of conspiracy. Apple was not aware in December [2009] and January [2010] of a conspiracy to raise prices."

If one wants to parse those words closely, one will realize that Mr. Snyder is in no way denying that a conspiracy existed, though he is denying that Apple has any knowledge of any such conspiracy. Of course, Apple's job isn't to defend the publishers at this point, but rather to defend itself against accusations from the DOJ.

What Judge Cote does with this information remains to be seen, but it was an interesting turn of events in the closing minutes of the trial.

Note that Jeff Gamet and I interviewed Philip Elmer-Dewitt on Wednesday's Apple Context Machine podcast, where he offered extended observations about the trial.

Judge Cote has not said when she will issue her ruling, and it is likely to be weeks, if not months, before she does so.