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If Apple vs. US goes to the Supreme Court

Mel Martin

Forbes has an interesting take on on Apple vs. the US Government in the current antitrust case that stems from deals Apple made as it entered the e-book business. Forbes speculates whether the case could head to the Supreme Court and how Apple might do in that venue.

Writer Roger Parloff believes this case is not a typical antitrust case saying, "Far from being a dominant player in the book industry, Apple was a new entrant. Far from instigating the scheme, it was -- even on the government's view of the evidence -- an opportunistic late-comer who exploited a pre-existing situation." Apple was trying to enter a field dominated by Amazon, and Amazon was selling books below cost to stimulate Kindle e-reader sales. Apple's position is it was trying to overthrow a monopoly held by Amazon, rather than trying to create a new one.

The other defendants in the case, the e-book publishers, have all signed consent decrees admitting no wrong-doing. Apple will argue it was not part of any price-fixing scheme and entered the e-book business after the publishers were already allegedly colluding.

It isn't known if the case will ever go before the Supreme Court, but Parloff and some other legal experts have weighed in with a belief that the Supreme Court is quite pro-business now, and Apple might have an advantage.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department argues Apple has used its considerable weight to help the publishers in a pricing conspiracy. "Apple knew that ... the [higher] retail price would sharpen [publishers'] incentives to follow through on raising prices across all retailers."

It's clearly not an open-and-shut case, and new laws or regulations could come out if it. Apple has been standing pat, and the outcome will certainly be very interesting.

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