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Why Apple is taking the e-book case to the U.S. Supreme Court

Roger Parloff, Fortune’s senior editor for legal affairs, knows how to read a docket. And based on an item submitted Wednesday to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he just posted this headline:

Apple will ask Supreme Court to hear its ebooks price-fixing case

We’ll know more about Apple’s reasoning when Parloff gets his hands on the documents it submitted. [UPDATE: He’s got them.] But for now, for me—and for a lot of other people who followed this case from the beginning—this feels right.

Apple may have lost the original case, before U.S. Circuit Judge Denise Cote. It may have failed to convince two out of three judges on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

But that doesn’t mean the issues Apple raised in its defense are settled. Antitrust law is murky mess, encrusted with ambiguities and contradictions that have grown like barnacles on the 125-year-old Sherman Antitrust Act.

You get a taste for the state of things in this exchange in the appeals court ruling:

“In arriving at [its] startling conclusion,” sniped Debra Ann Livingston, writing for the majority, “the dissent makes two fundamental errors.”

Judge Dennis Jacobs, writing the dissent, sniped right back, characterizing the majority’s theory of the case as “primitive as a matter of antitrust doctrine and illiterate as a matter of economics.”

Apple could still win the case. But even if it loses, it wins. By taking it all the way to the highest court, Tim Cook reinforces Apple’s image as the company that thinks different, the one that’s in it for the long run, the one that has principles and sticks with them, no matter what the cost.

And with $200 billion in the bank, it can afford it.

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Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.