US judge bars Apple from further ebook antitrust violations

Friday 06 September 2013 18.10
Apple was found to have conspired with five publishers to undermine Amazon's ebook pricing model
Apple was found to have conspired with five publishers to undermine Amazon's ebook pricing model

A US judge who found Apple liable for conspiring to fix ebook prices has entered an injunction to bar the iPad maker from further antitrust violations.

US District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan said Apple could not enter into agreements with five major US publishers that would impede its ability to reduce ebook retail prices or offer price discounts.

The judge also said she would appoint an external monitor to review Apple's antitrust compliance policies, procedures and training for two years.

The terms of the judgment will expire after five years, but Ms Cote's order allows for extensions in one-year increments if necessary.

The injunction followed a 10 July ruling by Ms Cote finding Apple conspired with five publishers to undermine ebook pricing established by the dominant retailer in the market, Amazon.com.

The five publishers, all of which have settled with regulators, include Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group Inc, News Corp's HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Penguin Random House LLC, CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster Inc and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH's Macmillan.

The US Justice Department, which sued Apple in April 2012, had initially sought an even broader injunction that could have touched on the company's agreements with suppliers of other types of content, such as movies, music and TV shows.

However Ms Cote had made clear at a hearing last week that she would not go that far, saying she wanted the injunction "to rest as lightly as possible on how Apple runs its business."

The Justice Department nonetheless welcomed the injunction.

"Consumers will continue to benefit from lower ebooks prices as a result of the department's enforcement action to restore competition in this important industry," Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer said in a statement.

Apple said it would appeal the injunction.

"Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing," said company spokesman Tom Neumayr. "The iBookstore gave customers more choice and injected much-needed innovation and competition into the market."