Judge sets 2013 date for Apple e-book pricing hearing

Apple and a number of publishers are officially being called to court on June 3, 2013 to sort out the issue of e-book price fixing, as ruled by Manhattan-based judge Denise Cote.

The Department of Justice sued Apple for allegedly colluding with five book publishers — Penguin Group, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster — to fix the prices of e-books. It did this by dictating that any publisher who sold e-books through iTunes could not sell its books at a lower price in other marketplaces, such as Amazon’s. The DOJ said this type of behavior disrupts competition that naturally drives down prices, but the group claimed it was actually breaking apart a monopoly that Amazon held on e-book prices.

“The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true,” said Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr in a statement at the time. “The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.”

Thus far, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster have all settled with the Department of Justice. Apple, Penguin, and Macmillan remain to fight the suit next June. The group will face not only the DOJ, but 16 states that also filed antitrust lawsuits.

via Bloomberg Businessweek; image via Apple.com