A federal judge said that the U.S. Justice Department will likely be able to show evidence that Apple was part of a conspiracy with book publishers to raise e-book prices -- before the start of the trial.
The federal trial is set to begin June 3, and U.S. District Judge Denise Cote will be presiding. Cote gave her tentative view in a pretrial hearing Thursday, according to Reuters.
"I believe that the government will be able to show at trial direct evidence that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books, and that the circumstantial evidence in this case, including the terms of the agreements, will confirm that," Cote said, according to Reuters.
She stressed her view wasn't final and it was based on only some of the evidence she read but nonetheless her comments could pressure Apple to settle the lawsuit. The suit by the U.S. Justice Department accuses Apple of conspiring with book publishers to inflate e-book prices to hurt online competitor Amazon.com and raise profits for publishers.
Apple lawyer Orin Snyder, said in a statement, "We strongly disagree with the court's preliminary statements about the case today."
Apple is now the sole defendant remaining in the lawsuit. The five publishers in the suit settled earlier.
Cote also said that her final decision would be based on all of the evidence and made at the end of the trial.
The judge's remarks may not bode well for Apple, who as the lone holdout in a lawsuit will be facing legal fees and possible fines. Settling the case would mean a quick end to controversy, but after spending so much time and money fighting the U.S. Department of Justice, is Apple willing to do that?
Published at 1:35 PM PST on May 24, 2013