Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, speaks at the Apple Worldwide Developers… (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg )
A federal judge has ruled that Apple's Chief Executive Tim Cook must testify in the U.S. government's e-books antitrust case against the company.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan granted the Department of Justice's request to order Cook to testify for four hours in the lawsuit, according to Reuters.
Apple had tried to block attempts to have Cook sit for a deposition, saying it would be "cumulative and duplicative" because the government had already deposed 11 other Apple executives, Reuters said.
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Last April, the Justice Department sued Apple and five major book publishers, accusing them of a conspiracy to drive up the prices of digital books.
In the lawsuits filed by federal and state officials, Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs was named as a key player who helped orchestrate a complex price-fixing plan that cost consumers tens of millions of dollars over two years. Federal investigators said the prices of many new releases and bestsellers had been boosted by $2 to $5 each.
Shortly after the suits were filed, Apple vehemently denied wrongdoing, saying the Justice Department's "accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true."
The five book publishers — Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan and Penguin Group — also denied the allegations but reached settlements with the Justice Department.
Cote said in a teleconference Wednesday that Jobs' 2011 death was a key reason she was ordering Cook to testify.
The government is not requesting damages in the trial, slated to begin in June, but is seeking a finding that Apple violated antitrust law. It also wants an order blocking the Cupertino firm from engaging in similar conduct in the future, Reuters said.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment Wednesday.
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