Apple Loses E-Book Price-Fixing Appeal, Facing US$450 Million Settlement

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Apple is facing a US$450 million settlement after losing an appeal that it engaged in price-fixing in the e-book market.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit concluded that the district court correctly decided that Apple orchestrated a conspiracy among five major publishing companies to raise e-book prices.

The United States Department of Justice and 33 states and territories had filed the suit in the district court, alleging that Apple in launching its iBookstore had conspired with the publishers to raise prices across the market.

The appeals court found that the district court “correctly decided that Apple orchestrated a conspiracy among the publishers to raise e-book prices”, with the conspiracy unreasonably restraining trade.

“By organising a price-fixing conspiracy, Apple found an easy path to opening its iBookstore, but it did so by ensuring that market-wide e-book prices would rise to a level that it, and the publisher defendants, had jointly agreed upon,” circuit judge Debra Ann Livingston wrote.  

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Apple is expected to pay US$450 million, which will mostly go to e-book consumers, as part of a November agreement with private plaintiffs and the 33 states that joined the Justice Department’s lawsuit.

Apple has yet to confirm if it will seek a review of the ruling.

“Apple did not conspire to fix e-book pricing and this ruling does nothing to change the facts,” the WSJ reported Apple as saying in a statement. “We are disappointed the court does not recognise the innovation and choice the iBooks Store brought for consumers.

“While we want to put this behind us, the case is about principles and values. We know we did nothing wrong back in 2010 and are assessing next steps.”

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