Apple CEO Tim Cook has been called to testify in the US government's ebook price-fixing suit against the company.

Apple is accused of conspiring with five major publishers to artificially keep the price of ebooks high in the United States, against the wishes of retailers wishing to offer better value for customers.

US District Judge Denise Cote agreed to a request from the Department of Justice to put Cook on the stand for four hours during the trial, which is set to begin in June this year.

Cook will be quizzed on Apple's entry into the ebook market in the absence of then-CEO Steve Jobs, who passed away in October 2011, although it is not thought Cook had "meaningful involvement" in that area.

What did Steve tell Tim?

The DoJ is interested in details of conversations that the late visionary may have had with Cook, who was then serving as Apple's chief financial officer, due to his "position and closeness" to Jobs.

Judge Cote, in granting the request, said: "Because of that loss [Jobs], I think the government is entitled to take testimony from high-level executives within Apple about topics relevant to the government case."

Apple had fought the request, calling it a "fishing expedition" on the part of the government.

"This effort to depose Mr Cook, Apple's CEO, reflects the fact the government cannot meet its burden of proof in this case," said Apple lawyer Orin Snyder.

Regardless of Apple's protestations, Cook will take the stand. His company stands alone in the case after all five publishers chose to settle with the DoJ out of court.

Via Reuters