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Judge Denies Apple’s Request to Suspend Ruling in E-Books Price Fixing Case

Judge Denies Apple’s Request to Suspend Ruling in E-Books Price Fixing Case

New York District Court Judge Denise Cote on Friday refused Apple’s request to suspend her ruling that found the company guilty of e-book price fixing while it seeks an appeal. A stay would have given the company time to seek an appeal of the penalties laid out by the Department of Justice.



In July, Judge Cote found Apple guilty of colluding with HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group and Macmillan to fix the price of e-books sold through the iBookstore. The antitrust suit was leveled by the Justice Department, which focused on the company’s “agency model” agreements that allow publishers to set their own e-book prices under most favored nations clauses.

The Justice Department issued a proposed settlement last week, requiring the immediate termination of “agency model” agreements with five publishers, the addition of a mechanism to allow other e-book sellers to link to their own digital storefronts, and the hiring of an antitrust monitor, on Apple’s dime, for the minimum term of five years. The DoJ also wants to go one step farther, and bar Apple from entering similar agency arrangements with providers of “music, movies, television shows or other content that are likely to increase the prices at which Apple’s competitors may sell that content.”

The five publishers, in a court filing on Wednesday, challenged the DoJ’s suggestion about discontinuing existing agreements with Apple. The publishers, all of who, had settled before the trial started, argued that such a clause would punish them more than it would Apple. The DoJ responded by issuing a court filing on Friday, once more accusing Apple of colluding with the book publishers.

At the conclusion of Friday’s hearing, Judge Cote proposed a new settlement plan designed to stagger Apple’s deals with the five book publishers in an attempt to prevent any future price fixing arrangement. The New York Times reports that the proposal is a less intensive version of the DOJ’s sought after guidelines.

All parties will meet to discuss Judge Cote’s proposal in the coming weeks, and another court hearing is expected to occur later this month.

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