The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York today ruled that Apple is guilty of conspiring to fix the prices offered for e-books. United States District Judge Denise Cote (SDNY) found “[t]he Plaintiffs have shown that the Publisher Defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy. Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the Spring of 2010.” Judge Cote went on to conclude that “there is abundant direct and circumstantial evidence … that Apple knowingly and intentionally participated in and facilitated a horizontal conspiracy to eliminate retail price competition and to raise the retail prices of e-books.”
Today’s court order against Apple comes after a three-week bench trial before Judge Denise Cote, which began June 3, 2013 and ended June 20, 2013. The trial did not address the issue of damages, which will be the subject of a future proceeding.
Colorado was one of the original states, along with the U.S. Department of Justice, to pursue antitrust allegations against Apple and several publishers. Colorado and the other states previously had reached settlements with Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollinsPublishers L.L.C., Simon & Schuster Inc., and Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan for allegations relating to the same conduct. Those defendants will collectively pay more than $166 million in restitution to e-book consumers. Assistant Attorney General Devin Laiho has represented Colorado in the case.
“Today’s decision is a victory for consumers throughout Colorado who enjoy reading books on electronic devices. This decision, in combination with settlements that we previously reached with the publishers, will help ensure that e-books are sold at competitive prices in the future,” said Attorney General John W. Suthers.