US class-action ebook price-fixing suit can proceed

May 15, 2012
A man working on his laptop as he uploads e-books. A judge Tuesday allowed a class-action case to proceed against Apple and six publishing houses alleging a price-fixing scheme for electronic books, citing "ample" indications of a conspiracy.

A judge Tuesday allowed a class-action case to proceed against Apple and six publishing houses alleging a price-fixing scheme for electronic books, citing "ample" indications of a conspiracy.

The suit, file last August, is separate from a complaint last month which makes similar allegations, that Apple colluded with publishers to boost the price of and wrest control from Amazon.

The evidence presented of an agreement between Apple and the publishers "is unlawful per se because it is, at root, a horizontal price restraint," Judge Denise Cote of in New York said in an opinion, which allows the case to move forward.

The ruling came in response to a request to dismiss the case from Apple, and the publishers -- HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, Penguin and Random House.

"There are ample that Apple became an integral member of this conspiracy and well understood that the upshot of its participation would be the elimination of price competition at the retail level, forcing consumers to... 'pay a little more' for ebooks," the judge wrote.

The Justice Department sued Apple and five publishing firms last month alleging a similar conspiracy to raise prices and limit competition for e-books. It immediately announced a partial settlement in the case.

Officials said three of the publishers agreed to end the scheme to force retailers such as Amazon to accept a new pricing plan that ended their ability to offer discounts for electronic books.

Both cases stem from a move by Apple and its late chief executive Steve Jobs to get publishers to move away from a model offered by Amazon -- which sold most ebooks for $9.99 -- to a different system with higher prices.

The move almost instantly raised the prices consumers paid for e-books, to $12.99 or higher.

New documents filed in the government case suggest Jobs played a key role in the conspiracy and told one publisher in an email, "Hold back your books from Amazon" and "Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99."

Explore further: Apple denies e-book pricing conspiracy

Related Stories

Apple denies e-book pricing conspiracy

April 13, 2012

Apple denied a charge that it schemed with publishers to hike prices for e-books, portraying itself as a hero for prying Amazon's "monopolistic grip" from the market.

Authors Guild worried by Apple e-book suit report

March 10, 2012

The president of the Authors Guild expressed concern on Friday over reports that the Justice Department is threatening to file an antitrust suit against Apple and book publishers.

Amazon strikes twin electronic book deals: WSJ

April 1, 2010

Amazon.com is letting two more major publishers raise prices of electronic books for Kindle readers in deals struck just days before Apple releases rival iPad computer tablets, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Recommended for you

ZTE launches world's first 5G-ready smartphone

February 26, 2017

Chinese telecoms giant ZTE unveiled Sunday what it said is the world's first smartphone compatible with the lightening-fast 5G mobile internet service that networks expect to have up and running by 2020.

Electrical engineers create tiny but powerful medical devices

February 24, 2017

Battery-operated medical devices implanted in human bodies have saved countless lives. A common implant, the cardioverter defibrillator, sends a jolt of electricity to the heart when needed, preventing a heart attack or heart ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.