Judge Orders Apple CEO Tim Cook to Testify in Ebooks Antitrust Case

According to Reuters, Apple CEO Tim Cook will take the stand to testify for four hours in the ongoing ebooks antitrust case:

Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook must sit for a deposition in the U.S. government’s lawsuit against the company over alleged price-fixing in the e-book market, a judge ruled on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan granted the Justice Department’s request to compel Cook to testify for four hours in the lawsuit, which accuses Apple of conspiring with five publishers to raise e-book prices.

Just last week the Department of Justice submitted a one-page order to Judge Cote for Cook to take the stand. The DoJ says Cook likely has relevant information related to Apple’s ebooks initiatives, such as conversations with the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Apple disputed the request noting the testimony would be “cumulative and duplicative” since 11 other executives had already been deposed.

However, Judge Cote cited the death of Jobs as a major reason for ordering the deposition:

“Because of that loss, I think the government is entitled to take testimony from high-level executives within Apple about topics relevant to the government case,” as well as to counter Apple’s defense arguments, she said.

Apple remains the lone defendant in the lawsuit, while Pearson, Penguin Group, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster have already settled with the DoJ last year. The latter accuses Apple of collusion with other book publishers in the launch of the iBookstore, while the Cupertino-based company denies it, claiming the new book store has only “fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry.”

The government is not seeking damages, but rather a ruling that Apple violated antitrust law. Apple was also sued over the same allegations, with a class action lawsuit filed last April by a law firm in Vancouver.