Apple organised price-fixing of e-books, ruling finds

Trial on damages yet to be scheduled

Apple, the world's biggest technology company, orchestrated a scheme with publishers to fix the prices of electronic books, a federal judge ruled in a suit brought by the US government and state attorneys general.

US district judge Denise Cote in Manhattan said she would schedule a trial on damages claimed in the attorney general suits. The justice department asked Judge Cote for an order barring Apple from violating the anti-trust laws and is not seeking damages. The company said it will appeal.

The US sued Apple and five publishers in April 2012, claiming the maker of the iPad pushed publishers to sign agreements letting it sell digital copies of their books under what is known as the agency model. Under that model, publishers, and not retailers, set prices for each book, with Apple getting 30 per cent. Apple was the last defendant left in the case after the publishers avoided trial by settling.

The settling publishers are Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH's Macmillan unit, CBS Corp's Simon and Schuster, Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group, Pearson's Penguin unit, and News Corp's HarperCollins. – Bloomberg