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Judge Says Apple Guilty of Conspiring to Fix Prices of E-Books

Judge Says Apple Guilty of Conspiring to Fix Prices of E-Books

A federal judge on Wednesday has ruled that Apple did conspire to raise the prices of e-books. A trial for damages will be held at an unspecified future date.

Gavel

Reuters:

The decision by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan is a victory for the U.S. government and various states, which the judge said are entitled to injunctive relief.

Apple was accused of price fixing in 2012, along with five of the six major publishing houses. All parties other than Apple had agreed to settlements by 2013, leaving Apple to go it alone in the trial.

The Verge reported that Judge Cote in her ruling said that she found the Department of Justice’s case compelling, “The Plaintiffs have shown that the Publisher Defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy. Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the Spring of 2010.”

She continued, saying Apple and the publishers shared an “overarching interest” in cutting down Amazon’s lead, and “Apple seized the moment and brilliantly played its hand. Through the vehicle of the Apple agency agreements, the prices in the nascent e-book industry shifted upward, in some cases 50 percent or more for an individual title.”

The ruling by Judge Cote follows a non-jury trial that ended on June 20.

(UPDATE 7/10/13) – Apple gave the following comment to AllThingsD in response to the court’s decision:

Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations. When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We’ve done nothing wrong and we will appeal the judge’s decision.

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