Apple named in e-book price-fixing scheme

April 11, 2012 at 1:52 PM   |   Comments

| License Photo
WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday it has filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. and five book publishers for colluding to fix prices for electronic books.

At a news conference in Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder said the suit was filed in the Southern District of New York against the electronics giant and publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Penguin.

The first three publishers, Holden said, had already agreed to a proposed settlement, leaving Apple, Macmillan and Penguin to face further litigation.

The settlement includes allowing retailers, "such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the freedom to reduce the prices of their e-book titles," Holden said.

In addition, the companies have agreed to discontinue "anti-competitive most-favored-nation agreements with Apple and other e-books retailers," he said.

The Justice Department alleges "executives at the highest levels of the companies … worked together to eliminate competition among stores selling e-books, ultimately increasing prices for consumers."

The "conspiracy" began in the summer of 2009 with executives holding "regular, near-quarterly meetings" to discuss confidential business matters, the department said.

"Make no mistake, the antitrust laws are flexible and can keep pace with technology and a rapidly changing industry," acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis Pozen said in prepared remarks.

However, she said, chief executive officers of the publishers "bemoaned the 'wretched $9.99 price point.'"

She quoted one CEO as saying, "The goal is less to compete with Amazon as to force it to accept a price level higher than 9.99."

She also attributed a quote to the late Steve Jobs, a co-founder and CEO at Apple. Jobs allegedly said, "The customer pays a little more, but that's what you want anyway."

Topics: Steve Jobs
© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Most Popular
Mars rover spots rock shaped like thigh bone
Parched land in the drought-riddled West is actually rising
NEC touts its fingerprint technology
Tech industry All Stars developing 'Star Trek'-style communication badges
Birds lost their sweet tooth, hummingbirds got it back
Trending News