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In a pre-trial "tentative view," Judge Denise Cote said the U.S Department of Justice will likely be able to prove that Apple colluded with major book publishers to falsely inflate the prices of e-books sold through the iBookstore, reports "Reuters" (http://tinyurl.com/nfw824c).
While she stressed that the view was not final and that she had read only some of the evidence so far, her comments could add to pressure on Apple to settle the lawsuit, in which the Justice Department accuses the company and five publishers of conspiring to fix e-book prices, the article adds.
"I believe that the government will be able to show at trial direct evidence that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books, and that the circumstantial evidence in this case, including the terms of the agreements, will confirm that," Cote said.
Orin Snyder, a lawyer for Apple, said in a statement, "We strongly disagree with the court's preliminary statements about the case today."
The brouhaha centers on Apple's move to change the way that publishers charged for e-books as it prepared to introduce its first iPad in 2010. Traditionally, publishers sold books to retailers for roughly half of the recommended cover price.
Under that "wholesale model," booksellers were then free to offer those books to customers for less than the cover price if they wished.