Apple Reaches Settlement with States in Ebook Price Fixing Lawsuit

Apple settles with states in ebook price fixing caseThe lawsuit from several U.S. states against Apple over ebook price fixing allegations is coming to an end through a settlement outside of the court room. The states were seeking upwards of US$800 million after Federal Judge Denise Cote ruled that the iPhone and iPad maker had been the ring leader in a conspiracy with publishers to artificially raise the price of books.

33 states filed a class action lawsuit against Apple following a guilty verdict from Judge Cote in a trial where the Department of Justice accused Apple of antitrust violations. The DOJ said Apple colluded with book publishers to force prices up, while Apple said it was negotiating independent deals with the companies and trying to break Amazon's monopoly on the market. Judge Denise Cote agreed with the DOJ's arguments that Apple orchestrated a price fixing conspiracy, and placed a monitor in the company to watch over future contract negotiations.

Five book publishers were named in that case, but all settled out of court to avoid potentially crippling fines. Apple continues to maintain that it did nothing wrong, and denies there ever was a conspiracy.

Judge Cote is also presiding over the trial from the states, and denied a motion from  Apple to dismiss the case. A Federal Appeals Court denied Apple's appeal for a stay in the case, too, which kept schedule in place for a July 14 trial.

With Judge Cote's ruling against Apple in place, the government essentially endorsed Amazon's monopoly position in the book market along with the online retailer's practice of selling ebooks and physical books below cost. By selling books at a loss, Amazon created a market where other retailers haven't been able to compete, driving many out of business.

The settlement filing in the states' case is under seal, so there isn't any information yet on what the terms of that deal are, according to Bloomberg.

Apple continues to maintain that it did nothing wrong and that there wasn't any conspiracy with book publishers. The company is currently pursuing an appeal in hopes of overturning Judge Cote's ruling.