Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) lawyers wrapped up their three-week e-book price-fixing trial against the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday, and now the decision in this civil matter is in the hands of Judge Denise Cote. And of the judge’s tone at the end of the trial is any indication, then Apple lawyers at least made a very strong case to beat the price-fixing charges that the DOJ levied against Apple and five e-book publishers.
While the five publishing houses all backed out of the trial by reaching settlements and voiding their agreements with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Apple hung in and took the case all the way to trial, and the chances of Apple reaching a settlement now are about two – slim and none, and we see slim stepping out of the room. And why not, since Apple apparently had at least succeeded in changing Judge Cote’s perception of the proceedings?
Judge Cote, you may recall, made some headlines when she gave her perspective on the case against Apple as the trial started three weeks ago. She seemed pretty confident that based on what she had seen in discovery that the government had a very strong case that proved that Apple was the “ringleader” of the conspiracy to elevate e-book prices to undercut market-dominator Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).
Let us refresh your memory of what Judge Cote said before the trial started: “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.”
After executives from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and book-industry experts all took the witness stand, and emails and other correspondence from late CEO Steve Jobs, these were Cote’s words Wednesday before the two sides’ summations: “It seems to me the issues have somewhat shifted during the course of the trial. As you see it play out in the courtroom, things change a little bit and people have to stay nimble. So I’m very much looking forward to understanding precisely where we are now, when I listen to you (Thursday). … I think things have shifted. At least, it’s my perception it has.”
Might this mean that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) might actually beat the big, bad government?