In a new pushback over its role in an ongoing e-book controversy, Apple said that Steve Jobs’ widely reported quotes on Amazon and book publishers “will speak for themselves.” The company also denied once again that it conspired to fix prices.
Apple set out the claims in a legal filing this week that responds to a sprawling class action suit. The suit seeks millions on behalf of consumers who allegedly overpaid for e-books after Apple and publishers changed to agency pricing.
The new filing is part of a complicated legal two-step in which Apple and two publishers are fighting both Justice Department antitrust claims and a parallel suit in which class action lawyers and state governments seek money.
Apple’s latest arguments comes after a colorful filing last week in which it said the Justice Department’s case was “fundamentally flawed” and mischaracterized Steve Jobs’ description of an “akido move” on Amazon:
“Akido” is not a team sport like football with a quarterback directing the plays; it is a defensive martial art practiced one-on-one by individuals, requiring use of little strength or power, based on redirecting an attacker’s own force.
This week’s filing has less flair and instead sets out point-by-point refutations of the class action lawyers’ claims. The most notable of these addresses a famous episode in which Steve Jobs told a Wall Street Journal reporter that “Publishers are actually withholding their books from Amazon because they’re unhappy.” Apple says this statement and another account in which Jobs said “Amazon screwed it up” and “We pulled it off” will “speak for themselves.”
Apple also notes that a series of bilateral contracts it negotiated with the publishers in January of 2010 have similar terms but are not identical. The point is intended to emphasize that Apple didn’t quarterback a conspiracy.
The most intriguing part of Apple’s filing, however, comes at the conclusion. That’s where Apple suggests that the class action can’t go ahead in the first place because some publishers are already paying money to state governments to settle some of the claims. Apple says it would be unfair for both actions to go forward at the same time.
Apple and two of the five publishers who are still holding out (Macmillan and Penguin) face an uphill legal battle as a federal judge earlier this month emphatically refused to dismiss the case.
To learn more about what the fuss is about, see our “Everything you need to know about the e-book lawsuit in one post.” Also, legal lovers can check out the new filing for themselves below: