Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the last one standing in the federal antitrust case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against Apple and five e-book publishers. Now that all five publishers have agreed to settlements, Apple is the only one on the hook for the June trial. While there may be some serious money on the line, are there other risks that Cupertino is taking by holding out and fighting this case?
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has maintained innocence in this case all along, so it seems like no surprise that it would stand and fight the claim by Justice that Apple colluded with the publishers to fix e-book retail prices to take market share away from Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). But while Apple seems willing to fight any fines or damages, are there some collateral risks at play here as well, and are the perceived rewards of this fight worth the battle?
As part of the settlement agreements, the five publishers were required to terminate all contracts they made with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and any other “non-competitive” retailers. With those deals now finished, there seems to be less of a court fight necessary between Apple and Justice. Law professor Daniel Crane at the University of Michigan asked, “What are they fighting over?”
But this is not the only lawsuit that features the growing e-book business. Apple is also facing a class-action lawsuit from consumers regarding the price-fixing, which the Consumer Federation of America estimated cost consumers about $200 million in 2012 alone. And with state and federal antitrust laws allowing for triple damages, this could be an expensive case, but what in the world would be the motivation behind Apple taking on this federal lawsuit?
It might not be about the money .. at least, not in the short-term.