Apple CEO Tim Cook’s testimony in the Epic Games case could be make-or-break, suggests the WSJ. A source reports that the company is taking no chances in prepping Cook to take the stand …

The source says that former prosecutors have been questioning him during trial practice.

Approaching the 10th anniversary of taking over as chief executive, Mr. Cook is no stranger to high-profile, make-or-break moments for Apple. A polished public speaker, he has twice testified before Congress but never appeared on a witness stand in a trial where his words could sway a judge for or against the company.

His testimony is likely to be the most detailed public discussion he will give on a subject that is likely to loom over Apple for years to come. Mr. Cook has been preparing for the trial, according to a person familiar with his effort. That has included hours of practice rounds from former prosecutors chosen by his legal team to simulate the witness stand.

It’s of course routine for execs to be prepped in this way, and it makes sense that Apple would choose trial lawyers known for their aggressive questioning.

Tim Cook’s testimony is expected to be heard at the end of this week, or the beginning of next week.

So far, the consensus view in the legal community remains that Apple is winning the case, helped by what was considered a weak performance by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. Epic’s case hinges on Apple’s cut of App Store sales being profiteering, and it suggested the iPhone maker’s profit margin was 80%. Apple says this is made-up.

To emphasize the point, an Apple lawyer pressed Epic Chief Executive Tim Sweeney on how his company similarly doesn’t account for shared engineering costs to a particular project.

“If someone were to point at one product or service that your company offers and declare a precise profit margin for it, that assessment would be fundamentally flawed, wouldn’t it?” Richard Doren, a lawyer for Apple, asked.

“Yes, within most parts of Epic, that’s correct,” Mr. Sweeney said.

Mr. Sweeney’s performance during the course of two days was mostly subdued. Those dialing into the courtroom, because Covid-19 safety precautions kept them out, had trouble hearing him as he spoke softly—even the judge sitting near him asked him to repeat things a few times.

“I’m pretty sure Apple feels pretty happy,” said David Reichenberg, an antitrust lawyer, who isn’t involved in the case but listened to Mr. Sweeney’s performance. “He didn’t seem to come off as confident.”

All the same, it’s certainly true that the trial is a crucial one for Apple, and that it’s important Cook doesn’t say anything that could weaken the company’s case as it fights antitrust investigations elsewhere.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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