Apple: Amazon played DOJ’s antitrust division like a violin

August 16, 2012, 12:52 PM UTC

FORTUNE — Apple (AAPL) opened a new front in its attack on the Justice Department’s e-book antitrust suit, which accuses the company of conspiring with five publishers to raise the price of electronic books.

The DOJ, Apple charges, colluded with Amazon (AMZN) to bring the suit in the first place.

“Amazon was the driving force behind the Government’s investigation,” Apple claimed in a legal memo filed Wednesday to protest the DOJ’s proposed settlement. “And it told a story to the Government that has yet to be scrutinized. Amazon talked with the Government repeatedly throughout the investigation, even hosting a two-day meeting at its Seattle headquarters. In all, the Government met with at least fourteen Amazon employees — yet not once under oath.”

The thrust of Apple’s latest salvo is that the settlement the Justice Department wants to impose on the publishers puts the cart before the horse.

The government, it says, “seeks to terminate and rewrite Apple’s bargained for contracts before a single document has been introduced into evidence, before any witness has testified, and before the Court has resolved the disputed facts. The Court’s decision would be irreversible. Nullifying a non-settling defendant’s negotiated contract rights by another’s settlement is fundamentally unfair, unlawful, and unprecedented.”

Once again, Apple cited the 868 public comments on the DOJ’s proposed final judgement (798 of which opposed it). “Many,” Apple wrote, “expressed concerns about the possibility that the Government has unwittingly placed a thumb on the scales in favor of Amazon, the industry monopolist.”

Paid Content’s Laura Hazard Owen has posted a pdf of Apple’s memo here.