Apple have been found guilty of conspiring to fix the price of ebooks.
A US judge ruled that the company “conspired to restrain trade” by approaching publishers in an attempt to challenge Amazon’s dominance in the ebook market. Apple allegedly agreed a deal with it’s publishing partners that let them set their own prices for the ebooks, as opposed to allowing retailers to set the prices. This enabled Apple to claim a percentage of sales through their iBooks store, and prevented Amazon from lowering their charges.
However now a new hearing has been ordered, which will determine the damages that Apple will have to pay.
The publishers that were originally named alongside Apple as defendants in the case have already reached out-of-court settlements, with Penguin settling for $75m, Macmillan settling for $26m, while Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster creating a $69m fund to cover customer refunds.
The ruling judge, Denise Cote, said on the ruling:
“The plaintiffs have shown that the publisher defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise ebook 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.”
Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr also commented on the ruling:
“Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations. We’ve done nothing wrong.”