In July of this year, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote found that Apple had conspired, with five U.S. publishers, to fix e-book prices, reports Reuters. The publishers settled before the case went to trial and included among their ranks: Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House.
Yesterday, Judge Cote released the much awaited final judgment and order, and Apple's worst fears were confirmed. Sorry, Apple, you can't win 'em all.
The order dated September 5, 2013 prohibits Apple from entering into any agreements with the five publishers that would result in the publishers' inability to reduce prices or offer discounts. In addition, Apple's e-book dealings will be monitored, for two years, by a third party. The length of the final judgment is five years total, and goes into effect thirty days from the date of entry.
Responses to The Order
Bill Baer, Attorney General of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division seemed pleased with Judge Cote's order. According to Electronista, following the ruling the Department of Justice stated:
Consumers will continue to benefit from lower e-books prices as a result of the department's enforcement action to restore competition in this important industry....By appointing an external monitor to ensure future compliance with the antitrust laws, the court has helped protect consumers from further misconduct by Apple. The court's ruling reinforces the victory the department has won for consumers.
On the other hand, Apple maintains that it did not engage in any wrongdoing: "Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing....The iBookstore gave customers more choice and injected much needed innovation and competition into the market," reports The Verge. Apple followed up by adding that it will appeal the injunction.
This isn't the end for Apple; it has several class action suits and 33 state Attorney Generals to deal with according to The Verge. Judge Cote is also scheduled to determine damages in May of next year, which according to Forbes, "could reach hundreds of millions of dollars."
- Apple Loses E-Book Price Fixing Suit; Drops 'App Store' Lawsuit (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)
- United States v. Apple Inc. (United States District Court for the Southern District of New York)
- Apple's E-Book Antitrust Defeat Helped by Emails, eDiscovery (FindLaw's In Houes Blog)