Apple found guilty of ebook price fixing

THE EBOOK industry received a shake-up yesterday after a US federal judge ruled against Apple, saying that the firm colluded with five publishing houses to increase the price of books ahead of the iPad launch in 2009.

The US Department of Justice, along with 33 states, filed the antitrust suit last year claiming that Apple was attempting to undermine Amazon’s e-book market lead and its $9.99 price point. The government said Apple facilitated the elimination of retail competition and allowed publishers to set higher prices through so-called agency agreements that also included a 30 per cent commission for the firm.

“Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did,” said Judge Denise Cote in a summary of a 159-page decision, alluding to the ebook price increases of up to five dollars when the iPad’s iBookstore launched.

In response, Apple said that the iBookstore had expanded options for consumers and increased market competition by eliminating “Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry.” The firm is set to appeal the judge’s decision, reiterating that it has “done nothing wrong”. “Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations,” the firm said yesterday.