In an extensive look at the present state of punishment for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) having been found guilty of ebook price-fixing, Bloomberg is reporting that the Department of Justice is looking at being a bit more lenient with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as it submits its recommendations for an injunction.
United States sues Apple and others
The United States sued Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) along with five publishers in April of 2012 believing that the six colluded in an effort to raise prices in order to take a bite out of Amazon’s business and force it to adopt a new pricing model. Each of the five publishing companies: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan unit, CBS Corporation (NYSE:CBS), Simon & Schuster, Lagardere SCA (EPA:MMB) (MMB)’s Hachette Book Group, Pearson PLC (ADR) (NYSE:PSO) (LON:PSON) (PSON)’s Penguin unit and News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA) (NASDAQ:NWS)’s HarperCollins settled with the government leaving Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as the sole defendant in the case.
It’s believed that the five settled for somewhere in the neighborhood of $160 million collectively, a number that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) may have to match or seriously exceed when the second part of the suit is decided in a trial to determine punitive damages.
Denise Cote finds government’s proposal too harsh
Prior to that upcoming suit, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote found Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) guilty of conspiring with the five publishers and asked the government and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to submit proposals to settle the matter. On August 9th in a hearing, Judge Cote found the government’s proposal too harsh and sent them back to work something out that wouldn’t regulate Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) so significantly.
The Department of Justice had asked for an injunction against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) for ten years but in today’s proposal halved this amount to five years. The U.S. still seeks a court-appointed external antitrust monitor, a measure to which Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) objects.
“This is unreasonable and unjustified and exceeds the bounds of even criminal price-fixing cases,” Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) attorney Orin Snyder said in a letter today to U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan.
Apple not to walk away from this easily
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is not going to walk away from this unscathed and will not simply be handed a financial judgement that it can find in its Cupertino couch cushions.
“The purpose of the remedy is to fix the competitive problems, restore competition to the marketplace and to prevent the illegal behavior from continuing in the future,” a spokeswoman for the Justice Department said in an email. “We have revised the proposed remedy taking into account the court’s comments and this fast-changing industry.”
Both parties were instructed today to search out an agreement before returning for another hearing next week.