Orin Snyder

Apple had a field day with Google in court here on Thursday.

Apple started to pick away at the Department of Justice's claim that the tech giant conspired to inflate e-book prices by repeatedly and rapidly firing questions at a key Google witness.

The tactic paid off for lead Apple attorney Orin Snyder, who began to wear down on Thomas Turvey, director of strategic relationships for Google. Turvey appeared increasingly frazzled and frustrated as the afternoon went on.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) executives were prepared to abandon plans to enter the e-book business on the eve of the company’s 2010 debut of the iPad, Penguin Group USA Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Shanks testified in the U.S. government’s civil antitrust trial against Apple.

Shanks, called on the second day of the trial in Manhattan federal court, yesterday described his company’s decision to sign a deal known as an agency agreement for Apple to sell Penguin’s electronic books. He said Penguin signed on after initially resisting Apple’s pricing model.

Apple and the Department of Justice gave their opening statements in the e-book price-fixing case United States of America v. Apple Inc. The government presented a position based on interpretations of direct quotes from relevant documents where Apple allegedly discussed ways to raise e-book prices not only on its own platform, but across the industry. Apple defended itself by saying that it acted in no one’s business interests but its own … and the government is “trying to reverse engineer a conspiracy from market effect.”

According to in-court reports from Reuters, Judge Cote offered her view at a hearing for the court trial set for June 3, saying she came to the tentative conclusion after looking over a portion of the evidence.

"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," Judge Cote said.

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