Apple conspired to raise e-book prices, judge rules

10 Jul 2013

Consumer tech giant Apple conspired with major book publishers to raise the price of e-books in connection with the launch of its iPad tablet computer in 2010, in violation of antitrust law, a Manhattan federal district judge has ruled.

US District Judge Denise Cote also called for a trial on damages.

She dismissed arguments from Apple executives and lawyers saying the company was only working with publishers who were dissatisfied with the way e-commerce giant Amazon priced its books.

The US Department of Justice had claimed the conspiracy intended knock’s dominance of the e-books market.

Only Apple went to a non-jury trial, which ended on 20 June. The publishers – Hachette, HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck, Simon & Schuster and Penguin – settled with the US government and the states, Reuters reported.

Cote said the conspiracy resulted in prices for some e-books rising to US$12.99 or US$14.99, when Amazon had sold for US$9.99.

“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,” Cote said.

Cote issued her 159-page decision today.

Apple building image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic