“After Monday’s opening statements in the government’s federal antitrust case against Apple — stemming from Apple’s game-changing foray into the then nascent ebooks market in 2010 — it’s apparent that the case raises novel legal questions that could well end up commanding the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Roger Parloff reports for Fortune.

“For casual observers of the case, this had not been so obvious before,” Parloff reports. “That’s because the legal questions raised by the conduct of the five publishing companies who were also originally named as Apple’s (AAPL) co-conspirators and co-defendants in the case—Hachette, HarperCollins, MacMillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster—did not pose comparably challenging questions. (Each publisher settled before trial admitting wrongdoing.)”

Parloff reports, “Unlike Apple, the publisher defendants were charged with engaging in a horizontal price-fixing conspiracy—a well-recognized, frequently encountered, and widely condemned variety of collusive behavior… In contrast, though, Apple had a vertical relationship to all the other players in the alleged plot. As a result, its conduct poses far less familiar factual and legal questions. While there have been prior cases in which vertical players have participated in horizontal antitrust conspiracies, these have usually involved situations where a behemoth vertical player was the instigator and chief beneficiary of the whole scheme — the ‘ringmaster,’ as courts have put it. Apple doesn’t fit that template, though.”

Tons more in the full article – highly recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz,” “Ellis D.,” and “blaargh” for the heads up.]

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