Tim Cook May Have to Testify in Apple (AAPL) E-Books Case

Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook may testify in the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit filed against the iPhone-maker over alleged price-setting in the e-book market, reports Bloomberg.

The lawsuit, which was originally filed against the Cupertino company and five publishing houses in April of 2012, claims that the original defendants, which included publishers Macmillan, Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster conspired to raise prices for e-books through the so-called “agency model” that allows the publishers to take control of the retail pricing. Under this pricing strategy, publishers received 70% of the retail price and Apple took a 30% commission. Apple also got that publishers to agree not to sell more cheaply to any of its rivals. Obviously, Apple had pushed for the model in an attempt to slow Amazon (AMZN)’s success, which at the time had an estimated 90% share of the e-book market.

The Justice Department believes that the agency model implemented by the publishers at Apple’s behest “have caused e-book consumers to pay tens of millions of dollars more for e-books than they otherwise would have paid.”

Cook’s possible testimony was disclosed Friday in a brief order by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan, who is overseeing the case.

In a three-sentence order, Cote set a telephone conference for March 13 after the DoJ requested in letter on March 6 for “assistance in setting a discovery dispute” over Cook’s deposition. The Department’s filing was not made available to the public.

Last month it was reported Apple remains the only defendant in the case, as other accused publishers have already settled with the DoJ. The case is taking place in court in New York City.

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