The US judge who will decide the ebook price fixing case has suggested the government will be able to show that Apple was part of the conspiracy, before the trial has even begun.
In a somewhat unusual move, US District Judge Denise Cote said at a pretrial hearing that she thought the Department of Justice would be able to show evidence that Apple conspired with book publishers to fix the price ebooks, although she did stress that her view wasn't final.
"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 ebooks, and that the circumstantial evidence in this case, including the terms of the agreements, will confirm that," Cote said, according to Reuters.
Apple is the only holdout left in the case after all five publishers, Penguin, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette, settled with the DoJ.
Penguin looked for a while like it might join the company in court, but needed to sort the case out before it could get regulatory approval for its merger with Random House.
It announced yesterday that it was paying $75m to settle up, as well as scrapping agency contracts and ditching "most favoured nation" clauses, which stopped publishers from offering better deals to other retailers.
Apple has consistently denied being involved in price-fixing, claiming its agency agreements with the publishers were just good business sense and that if others were meeting to discuss prices, Apple wasn't meeting with them. ®