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Government: Apple's Trying To Rush Antitrust Case

Apple is said to have a "special urgency" in ending the case over the price of electronic books.

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. government says Apple Inc. wants to rush its New York antitrust lawsuit over the price of electronic books by finishing evidence gathering by year's end, and the electronics king acknowledges it has a "special urgency" in ending the case.

The government said in a letter filed in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday that it wants until March to finish gathering facts in a lawsuit it brought this year.

The government sued this year, joining 15 states in saying Apple and several publishers conspired in the fall of 2009 to force e-book prices several dollars above the $9.99 charged by on its popular Kindle device.

Government lawyers told a judge there is much to be learned about the scope and identity of individuals who participated in a conspiracy between publishers and Apple to set book prices.

They said they were trying to reveal "a long-running, detailed conspiracy that affected millions of U.S. consumers and likely involved multiple executives at each co-conspirator. Some of the acts in furtherance of the conspiracy occurred in Europe, where the defendants also pursued a similar course of conduct aimed at European consumers."

The lawyers said time was required to sort out what happened and "bring the full course of the defendants' conduct to light."

In its own letter, Apple said its approach reflects a "special urgency" in resolving the case because of public interests at stake and to vindicate its conduct. It repeated its "unequivocal position: it believes it has done nothing wrong and seeks a speedy resolution of the Department of Justice's lawsuit on the merits."

"It is also a reality that the mere existence of litigation of this type creates marketplace uncertainties, which impact competitive conditions and the public interest," it said.

A hearing in the case was set for Friday.