It is starting to look like Apple's defence of its anti-trust antics in the ebook trade is doomed even before it starts.
In what Reuters calls a rare move, a federal judge expressed a tentative view that the US Justice Department will be able to show evidence that Apple engaged in a conspiracy with publishers to increase ebook prices.
Judge Denise Cote gave her view during a pre-trial hearing and said it was based on reading some of the evidence.
The move might be to put pressure on Apple to stop being an idiot and settle the case like all the book publishers involved in the cartel.
Apple's big problem is that, before he died, Steve Jobs bragged of the success of his cartel at jacking up the price for users while sticking it to Amazon. Apparently the DoJ found a wealth of emails saying similar stuff on Apple's servers.
Cote stressed that the view was not final but she believed 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 ebooks. She added that the circumstantial evidence in this case, including the terms of the agreements, will confirm that.
Apple insists that view must be completely wrong, because it is always right. Although since the case is not being heard with a jury to befuddle, it will have its work cut out.
Cote emphasised that no final decision would be made until after the trial takes place. She also said she had not read many of the affidavits submitted in support of the parties' positions.