Judge Cote Gives Apple Ebook Antitrust Case Class Action Status

Consumers targeting Apple with a lawsuit over claims that the iPhone and iPad maker teamed up with publishers to drive up the price of ebooks has been granted class action status by U.S. Federal Court Judge Denise Cote. She's the Judge that oversaw the lawsuit the Department of Justice filed against Apple and book publishers, ruled that Apple did participate in a conspiracy, and placed a monitor inside the company to ensure it doesn't engage in anti-competitive practices.

Consumer antitrust ebook case against Apple wins class action statusConsumer antitrust ebook case against Apple wins class action status

The plaintiffs in the case claim they suffered some level of harm because they had to pay higher prices for ebooks the purchased, and Judge Cote felt their arguments met the legal burden to qualify as a class action lawsuit. "This is a paradigmatic antitrust class action," Judge Cote said, according to Reuters.

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Apple and several publishers alleging they colluded to take the book market away from Amazon and raise the prices consumers pay for what they read. Apple said it was negotiating independent deals with publishers to get titles on its iBookstore for the iPad, and was trying to compete against the near monopoly Amazon had created.

The publishers all settled with the DOJ out of court to avoid potentially crippling fines, but Apple stood its ground and went to trial. Judge Cote ruled in favor of the DOJ last July, imposed an injunction restricting its business negotiations, and placed Michael Bromwich in the company to watch for antitrust activity as part of her remedy.

This class action lawsuit was filed by consumers and is independent of the cases many states have brought against Apple. The trail for the class action case is expected to start somewhere between July and September.

Apple has appealed Judge Cote's ruling in the DOJ case and was hoping to get Mr. Bromwich removed, too. He'll be staying in place, with more limited powers, so Apple is now focusing on getting a new trial with a different Judge.

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