Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) vowed that it would appeal the decision of U.S. District Judge Denise Cote related to the e-book antitrust case, according to a report from BBC News.
Judge Ruled Against Apple on E-Book Pricing
The judge ruled that the iPad maker conspired with publishers to fix the prices of e-books prior to its entry in the market.
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Tom Neumayr, spokesperson for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), maintains the position that the company did not commit any wrongdoing.
“Apple did not conspire to fix e-book pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations. We’ve done nothing wrong,” said Neumayr. He also emphasized that the iPad maker did not stifle competition, and that instead Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) brought innovation and competition.
In her ruling, Judge Cote said that the Department of Justice demonstrated that publishers colluded with each other to eliminate the competition in retail prices in order to raise the price of e-books. According to her, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) played a primary role in facilitating and executing the conspiracy.
Judge Cote said, “Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the spring of 2010.”
“The question in this case has always been a narrow one: whether Apple participated in a price-fixing scheme in violation of this country’s antitrust laws. Apple is liable here for facilitating and encouraging the Publisher Defendants’ collective, illegal restraint of trade,” said Cote.
Judge Cote to Impose Damages
Judge Cote scheduled a separate hearing to determine the amount of damages to be imposed against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).
On the other hand, U.S. Assistant Attorney General, Bill Baer said the court’s decision benefited the millions of consumers who prefer to read e-books.
“Through today’s court decision and previous settlements with five major publishers, consumers are again benefiting from retail price competition and paying less for their e-books,” said Baer.
Consumer groups were satisfied with the court ruling. Dr. Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America commented, “If we let companies get away with this type of price fixing, consumers will be denied a substantial part of the benefits of the digital revolution.”
Meanwhile, Scott Hemphill, law professor at the Columbia University opined that the ruling sent some “signals to tech companies about what they can and can’t do.” He also dismissed the previous statement from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s legal counsel Orin Snyder that the judge would set a “dangerous precedent” if she ruled that the company manipulated the prices of e-books.
Prof. Hemphill emphasized that the court ruling was narrow and unlikely to set any legal precedent. He said, “The precedential value is limited because the ruling is by a district court.”