Apple: Feds aim to “give Amazon a significant competitive advantage” in ebooks case

Gigaom

In court filings posted Monday morning, Apple attorney Orin Snyder responded to the Department of Justice’s revised proposed punishment for the tech company in the ebooks case. Snyder criticized the government for filing “a 12-page broadside masquerading as a brief,” and accused them of “seeking a remedy that would give Amazon a significant competitive advantage over Apple.” (The filings are embedded below.)

U.S. district judge Dense Cote found Apple guilty of conspiring with publishers to set ebook prices last month, and Apple is appealing that verdict. Nonetheless, it responded directly to various parts of the DOJ’s proposed injunction. The DOJ is arguing for a number of things: Changes in the way that Apple sells content in the App Store, including allowing ebook retailers to sell ebooks directly through their apps without Apple taking a cut; staggered negotiations with book publishers; and the creation of a third party monitor to ensure Apple does not conspire again.

Not surprisingly, Apple doesn’t want any changes in the way it does business in the App Store, arguing in its brief that the proposal “introduces needless regulation and complexity to an evolving marketplace.”

Apple did promise, however, that it would “apply the same terms and conditions to the sale or distribution of an E-book App through Apple’s App Store as Apple applies to all other apps.” Since Apple already maintains that it doesn’t discriminate against app publishers of any sort, it’s unclear how this clause would change the way the company does business, if at all.

Apple has already agreed to staggered negotiations with book publishers; it just wants to choose the order in which it negotiates with them, rather than adhering to the DOJ’s proposed schedule. All of the book publishers in the case have already settled and entered new contracts with retailers, but this clause would significantly extend the amount of time that they’re required to allow discounting of their books. Thus “the settling publishers are getting thrown under the bus one way or the other,” Michael Cader writes at Publishers Lunch (paywall).

Finally, Apple still doesn’t want an external monitor overseeing it, and promises it “will devote even greater resources to antitrust compliance going forward.”

Apple and the DOJ are scheduled to meet with Judge Cote in court on Tuesday.

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