While Apple is now fighting the e-book price fixing lawsuit alone as all other publishers have already settled with the U.S. Department of Justice, the company is heading for a high-stakes trial that could significantly increase its liability in the litigation, reports Reuters. The trial is set to take place on June 3rd where Apple will face civil allegations by the U.S. DOJ over alleged ebook price collusion.
According to the court papers, the Justice Department will not seek monetary damages but rather a judicial decree that Apple violated antitrust law at the trial, which will be overseen by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan. The source believes that if the judge issues an order enjoining Apple from engaging in any conduct similar to that alleged in the case, it could make Apple “vulnerable to steep damages” in related litigation.
If Apple loses against the Justice Department, those plaintiffs would be in a “powerful position” to win their cases, according to Harry First, a professor at New York University School of Law specializing in antitrust.
Under the Clayton Act, an antitrust statute, plaintiffs can use judgments obtained by the U.S. government as evidence against defendants.
If Apple loses, it is unclear whether both the states and the private plaintiffs will be able to seek and recover damages for the same conduct.
By contrast, if Apple were to prevail, it would cause “a lot more trouble” for the plaintiffs in the other cases, First said.
It is now more likely that Apple might settle with the U.S. government before the trial actually takes place.