According to a decision by the Southern District of New York, Apple violated antitrust laws in conspiring with book publishers to eliminate price competition for e-books, as reported in CNET News, yesterday.
“Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did,” Judge Denise Cote said in a 160-page opinion issued Wednesday.
Cote said the U.S. Justice Department showed in the trial that publishers conspired with each other to eliminate price competition for e-books and that Apple played a central role in that conspiracy. A trial for damages against Apple will follow, though Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said his company would appeal the verdict.
During the trial, a high-level Apple executive, Eddy Cue, acknowledged that the company’s deal with publihers caused some e-book prices to rise.
Neumayr said, in a statement, that Apple did nothing wrong and will continue to fight “these false accusations.”
The iBookstore increased customer choice when it launched in 2010, injecting more competition and “breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry,” he said.
Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer, the antitrust head at the Justice Department, called the decision a victory for millions of people who read books digitally. “This decision by the court is a critical step in undoing the harm caused by Apple’s illegal actions,” he said in a statement.
The publishers Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster settled their claims with the U.S. and several states. Only Apple went to trial. The U.S. Department of Justice said that Apple and the publishers had two objectives when making their deals: raise e-book prices and restrain retail price competition to hurt Amazon.
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