Apple eventually negotiated a $450 million e-book settlement in the event that it does not win its appeal. Apple faces a federal appeals court on December 15, and the company hopes to finally put this case to rest.
“Is it a fact that certain book prices went up?” asks Eddy Cue. “Yes. If you want to convict us on that, then we’re guilty. I knew some prices were going to go up, but hell, the whole world knew it, because that’s what the publishers were saying: ‘We want to get retailers to raise prices, and if we’re not able to, we’re not going to make the books available digitally.’ At the same time, other prices went down too, because now there was competition in the market.”
Many are surprised Apple still hasn't settled, and believe the case is more about reputation. If the company were to lose the appeal, it would face $450 million in damages plus attorney fees.
“We feel we have to fight for the truth,” says Cue. “Luckily, Tim feels exactly like I do,” he continues, referring to Apple CEO Tim Cook, “which is: You have to fight for your principles no matter what. Because it’s just not right.”
It’s a risky choice, since a loss would only set the stain. “Apple has an uphill battle,” says Herbert Hovenkamp, a law professor at the University of Iowa and co-author of a 22-volume antitrust treatise. “There was lots of evidence in the record, the judge looked at it, and she agreed with the government. Fact-findings get reviewed under a deferential standard. You pretty much have to accept them.” (It was a bench trial, meaning that Judge Cote herself, not a jury, was the fact-finder.)
When asked how he looked back at this nightmare, Eddy Cue responded with “If I had it to do all over again, I’d do it again,” he says. “I’d just take better notes.”