The eBooks Case: United States v. Apple and the Intellectual History of Competition in America

The eBooks Case: United States v. Apple and the Intellectual History of Competition in America


Friday, October 19, 2018 - 12:00pm


Rich Room, UNH School of Law 2 White St. Concord, NH 03301

Free Lunch will be served, RSVP by October 12th: 

During 2012 and 2013 the Justice Department litigatedan antitrust action against the Apple computer corporation and several major publishers alleging that they had fixed the prices of electronic books. The case attracted intense popular attention and controversy. Throughout, the case disclosed an extremely interesting, nearly hidden tension. To most antitrust lawyers and economists, United States v. Apple was a case the government couldn't lose. The law was straightforward, and the facts were very damning, and indeed the government won resoundingly at trial and on appeal. But to much of the public the case was not straightforward at all and was very troubling indeed. The defendants found supporters all along the political spectrum. Their views generally comprised various differently articulated visions for why books, or electronic books, or online commerce, or vertical restraints, or some other aspect of the case made it in some sense “special,” such that conduct ordinarily clearly illegal should receive clemency under its circumstances. But the book argues at length that, in fact, the various arguments, however different they might superficially seem, were in fact to some degree or other just variations on a common theme. Much more interesting yet, they turn out to mirror arguments that have been common from all kinds of different sectors throughout the whole history of antitrust. As it happens, there never has been an antitrust defendant that didn't think its market was special. In examining this history, the book argues that the Apple case discloses a deeper story about the problems of having any competition policy at all, and about why our policy has often been frustrated or ineffective.

Chris Sagers, the James A. Thomas Professor of Law at Cleveland State University, is a nationally recognized expert on American competition policy. He has testified before the U.S. Congress and the Antitrust Modernization Commission and is author of The eBooks Case: United States v. Apple and the Intellectual History of Competition in America (Harvard Univ. Press, 2019), Sullivan, Grimes & Sagers, The Law of Antitrust (West Publishing, 2015), Antitrust Examples &Explanations (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen, 2014) and, with Theresa Gabaldon of George Washington University, Business Organizations (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Casebook Series, 2016; 2d ed. 2018). His many articles have appeared in the Georgetown Law Journal, UCLA Law Review, and other leading journals. He contributes regularly to Slate magazine and his extensive press appearances include the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, L.A. Times, The Times of London, Agence-France Presse, CNBC, Fox News, and National Public Radio. He is a member of the American Law Institute, a Senior Fellow of the American Antitrust Institute, and has held leadership roles in the ABA Antitrust Section. He has won several awards for teaching and scholarship, including CSU's campus-wide Distinguished Research Award, the law alumni association's Walter G. Stapleton Award for Faculty Excellence, and the student body's Teacher of the Year award. From 2014-2017 he served as founding Faculty Director of the Cleveland-Marshall Solo Practice Incubator. He has taught courses in Antitrust, Business Organizations, Securities Regulation, Legislation and the Regulatory State, Law & Economics, Administrative Law, Banking Regulation, and a seminar concerning the theory of the firm.

Before joining the faculty, Professor Sagers practiced law for four years in Washington, D.C., first at Arnold & Porter and then at Shea & Gardner. He earned degrees in law and public policy at the University of Michigan and was an editor of the Michigan Law Review.

Hailing originally from the peaceful obscurity of small-town Iowa, Professor Sagers and his wife Annie Wu, who is News Director of Cleveland’s public radio station, live with two sons and a three-legged dog in the nicest town in America, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.