Federal judge ties Apple's hands on book pricing

Sept. 6, 2013 at 11:50 AM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A U.S. judge Friday restricted technology giant Apple from influencing electronic book prices for up to two years as a response to a recent antitrust ruling.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote had ruled in July, following a June trial, that Apple had colluded with five major publishers to fix the prices for e-books as it entered the book market with the opening of the iBookstore, part of the iTunes store, in 2010.

The Wall Street Journal reported Apple was ordered not to enter into agreements with publishers for two years to allow publishers, rather than Apple, to set the price for e-books.

The Justice Department had pushed for oversight over Apple's sales of music, movies and television shows, as well, the Journal said. But the judge stopped short of including those in the injunction.

Cote said a monitor would oversee Apple's compliance during the two-year period. The company was also barred from signing most-favored deals with publishers, which are deals that allow a retailer to match the lowest prices of competitors.

The five publishers settled out of court. Apple, however, insisted on a trial and now is pledging to appeal the rulings.

"Apple did not conspire to fix e-book pricing. The iBookstore gave customers more choice and injected much-needed innovation and competition into the market. Apple will pursue an appeal of the injunction," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayer said.

Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, said Friday's order validates the June ruling.

"We're pleased that the court has issued an order supporting the Justice Department's efforts to address Apple's illegal price-fixing conduct. 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," Baer said.

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