US takes Apple to trial on charges of conspiracy to fix price of ebooks

Lawsuit accuses Apple of conspiring to break Amazon’s hold on pricing

Apple is going to trial alone after five US publishers agreed to eliminate prohibitions on ebook wholesale discounts. Photograph: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Apple is going to trial alone after five US publishers agreed to eliminate prohibitions on ebook wholesale discounts. Photograph: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

 

Apple goes to trial tomorrow in the US over allegations by federal and state authorities that it conspired with publishers to raise the price of ebooks.

The US justice department is taking over what it claims is a test in how internet retailers interact with content providers.

“This case will effectively set the rules for internet commerce,” said David Balto, a former policy director for the US Federal Trade Commission.

The justice department filed its case against Apple and five of the six largest US book publishers in April 2012. The lawsuit accused them of conspiring to increase ebook prices and break Amazon. com’s hold on pricing.

Apple is going to trial alone after the five publishers agreed to eliminate prohibitions on wholesale discounts and to pay a collective $164 million to benefit consumers.

The five publishers were Pearson’s Penguin Group, News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers, CBS’s Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group and MacMillan.

The US government is not seeking damages but instead an order blocking Apple from engaging in similar conduct. However, if Apple is found liable it could still face damages in a separate trial by the state attorneys general and consumers pursuing class actions. – (Reuters)