And as Apple fiercely protects its own image, the company will work to sully the reputation of its rival Amazon.com.
The Justice Department filed suit against Apple and five book publishers in April 2012, accusing them of price fixing in an effort to outflank Amazon in the market for e-books. All five publishers have settled with the government, but Apple has forged on to trial.
Amazon is not implicated in the Justice Department’s suit, but it will be dragged into what is expected to be a prolonged and nasty court battle, analysts say. Apple is seeking to disclose what it describes as incriminating e-mails that would portray Amazon as a firm that has ignored the interest of consumers. Amazon has argued with the court to keep those documents sealed.
“We’re taking a very principled position on this,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said last week at the All Things D technology conference in California. “We were asked to sign something that says we did do something, and we’re not going to sign something that says we did something we didn’t do. And so we’re going to fight.”
Apple hopes to bring Amazon into what could be a weeks-long hearing at the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, saying documents currently redacted by Amazon are “potentially embarrassing” and show that the retailing giant had also considered the same pricing model that is now under government scrutiny.
Apple wants to make public what it describes as Amazon’s “internal discussions about the inferiority” of its Kindle e-reader compared with the iPad, according to Apple’s attorneys at the firm O’Melveny & Meyers. “Amazon seeks to shield from public disclosure evidence that undermines” the Justice Department’s case, Apple’s attorneys argued in a letter to Judge Denise Cote last month.
Amazon declined to comment for this article, saying it does not comment on litigation. Justice Department officials declined to comment.
Apple’s case is the latest effort by the Silicon Valley giant to clear its name in courts and before regulators around the world amid criticism of how it has used patents, tax shelters and commercial deals to protect its dominance in some markets and edge into new businesses such as e-books.
Apple is notoriously secretive and controlling of its brand and product designs, but it has been forced to pry open its business to the public. It has opened up about its manufacturing and supply chain operations after criticism about working conditions at its Chinese contract factories. It discussed its financial strategies after a Capitol Hill investigation concluded that Apple had set up shell companies in Ireland to shield it from U.S. taxes. In its global war with Samsung over smartphone and tablet design patents, it revealed much about the culture of its design team and clues about future product lines.