A US district court judge has found Apple guilty of e-book price fixing after three weeks of court proceedings that ended 20 June. Apple has said that it will appeal the decision, and maintains that it has done nothing wrong.
Judge Denise Cote for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said in an opinion issued Wednesday that "this Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that Apple conspired to restrain trade."
The U.S. Department of Justice filed the antitrust lawsuit in April last year alleging that Apple and five publishers - Penguin Group, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan - had conspired to raise e-book prices. The publishers, however, have since all settled, agreeing to stop prohibiting wholesale discounts and to pay a cumulative US$164 million, earmarked to benefit consumers.
Apple was the only defendant to go to trial, but the company maintained that it had done nothing wrong.
“We’re not going to sign something that says we did something that we didn’t do, so we’re going to fight,” said CEO Tim Cook during an interview at the D11 conference in May.
Still unclear, of course, are the long-term ramifications of the decision. Most likely to benefit is Amazon, who was alleged to be the target of the collusion between Apple and publishers. But some reports suggest that Amazon has already started to raise prices. A separate trial will determine damages.
Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told our colleagues at Macworld.com: "Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations. When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We’ve done nothing wrong and we will appeal the judge’s decision."
Additional reporting by Macworld.com's Dan Moren.