Thursday, July 11, 2013

AG Schmidt: Court finds Apple fixed e-book prices

TOPEKA –  Apple, Inc., has been found liable for violating antitrust laws by conspiring with major U.S. publishers to fix the prices of e-books, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced Wednesday.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Apple “played a central role in facilitating and executing” the conspiracy to raise e-book prices, and that Apple’s orchestration of the conspiracy was necessary to its success.  The case against Apple was brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and 33 states, including Kansas.

“Kansas pursued this case because the evidence showed that Apple had violated the law, resulting in Kansas consumers paying more for e-books than they would have paid in a competitive marketplace,” Schmidt said. “Protecting Kansas consumers from unlawful business practices is one of our priorities at the attorney general’s office.”

At trial, the states and the federal government demonstrated that Apple and its executives were unwilling to compete on price with other retailers of e-books, and instead conspired with the publishers to fix and raise prices. The next phase of the litigation will focus on recovery of damages for consumers harmed by the conspiracy.

The publishers, Hachette Book Group, Inc.; HarperCollins Publishers, LLC; Simon & Schuster, Inc.; Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, d/b/a Macmillan; and Penguin Group (USA), Inc., had settled the states’ claims against them prior to trial, resulting in consumers nationwide receiving over $166 million in compensation.