US Department of Justice sues Apple and others over e-book price fixing

11 Apr 2012

Apple and other book publishers have been accused by the US Department of Justice of conspiring to fix e-book prices and limit competition in the market.

The suit, filed by the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, alleges Apple and publishers such as HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Macmillan reached an agreement to cease retail price competition.

It alleges that as part of the agreement Apple would be guaranteed a commission of 30pc for every book sold.

Three of the publishers have already agreed to settle with the Justice department: Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Hachette Book Group.

Yesterday, Apple surpassed US$600bn in value, making it the world’s most valuable company.

Papers filed in a Manhattan court said: “To effectuate their conspiracy, the publisher defendants teamed up with defendant Apple, which shared the same goal of restraining retail price competition in the sale of e-books.

“Apple facilitated the publisher defendants’ collective effort to end retail price competition by co-ordinating their transition to an agency model across all retailers.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years