Business

Apple is guilty of e-book price fixing, says judge

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ndm007/1355228891/

The verdict is in: Apple is officially an e-book-price-conspiring criminal.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled today that Apple is guilty of colluding with five book publishers to fix prices on e-books in an effort to combat Amazon. This collusion resulted in prices for some e-books increasing to as high as $14.99 when Amazon was selling them for $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.

What’s telling is that, while Apple went to court to defend itself, implicated publishers like HarperCollins and Pearson all settled. The reason for that is clear: The Department of Justice laid out a killer case against Apple, and it was obvious from the beginning that Apple was going to have a hard time defending itself. (It also didn’t help Apple’s case that it was labeled the ringmaster in all of this.)

As a result of her ruling, Cote is also calling for a trial to determine how much Apple will have to dish out for its transgressions.

It hasn’t been a good week of litigation for Apple. Yesterday the company decided to end its case against Amazon over the use of “App Store”, which Apple previously claimed it had exclusive rights to. The company’s reason for pulling out? The case just wasn’t worth it.

“We no longer see a need to pursue our case,”With more than 900,000 apps and 50 billion downloads, customers know where they can purchase their favorite apps,” an Apple spokesperson told Reuters yesterday.

My take? Apple’s lawyers are probably just really tired of seeing the inside of courtrooms.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment.


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