Apple ordered to prepare for May 2014 trial on e-book antitrust damages

Apple's closing slide in its e-book antitrust case. | Source: U.S. District Court

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An order issued on Tuesday by U.S District Court Judge Denise Cote, who is presiding over the Justice Department's antitrust case against Apple's e-book pricing policies, notes all parties must by ready for a damages trial tentatively scheduled for May 2014.

Judge Cote in July found Apple guilty of conspiring with five major U.S. book publishers to raise the price of e-books sold through the iBookstore, an allegation lodged against the company by the Department of Justice.

At the time of her decision, the jurist did not set a court date to decide possible damages that could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Alongside the DOJ, plaintiffs include 33 U.S. states and territories.

Tuesday's order, first reported by Reuters after being made public on Wednesday, outlines the parties' upcoming schedule to argue damages against Apple. As seen below, plaintiffs are required to identify experts and expert testimony by Oct. 11, 2013, while Apple must do the same by Nov. 15. Expert discovery will conclude by Dec. 13, the same day that class certification is due.

The case has been placed on the May 2014 "trial ready" calendar, meaning by that time, parties must be ready to begin proceedings on 24 hours notice.

Following the guilty verdict, the U.S. Justice Department proposed settlement terms that would require Apple to terminate existing contracts and bar any further agency model deals for five years. In addition, the DOJ called for Apple to be banned from entering similar arrangements with providers of other content, such as music and video. This last provision was seen by some as overreaching, as it would extend the proposal's scope beyond the iBookstore and into the iTunes Store.

For its part, Apple called the measures a "draconian and punitive intrusion" on its iBookstore business. The five book publishers associated with the case, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group and Macmillan, also opposed the DOJ's proposal, saying it would hurt them more than Apple. All five publishers settled before the trial began.

Last Friday, Judge Cote proposed a separate settlement plan that would stagger Apple's deals with the five book publishers to prevent further price fixing allegations.