Judge: Apple at Heart of Ebook Price Fixing Conspiracy

U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote denied a request from Apple and ebook publishers to dismiss a class action lawsuit accusing them of price fixing, and at the same time said that Apple and Steve Jobs were in the middle of the conspiracy.

“In short, Apple did not try to earn money off of eBooks by competing with other retailers in an open market,” Judge Cote said in her ruling, according to paidContent. “Rather, Apple accomplished this goal by [helping] the suppliers to collude, rather than to compete independently.”

Judge says Apple at heart of ebook price fixing conspiracyJudge says Apple at heart of ebook price fixing conspiracy

The ruling means a class action lawsuit against Apple and publishers can move forward, but is not a ruling against the defendants.

Apple and ebook publishers are also facing a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice for the same matter. A DOJ investigation into price fixing led to a lawsuit against Apple, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Penguin, and Hachette over collusion accusations related to moving to an agency pricing model for ebooks instead of the traditional retailer-set pricing model.

The DOJ, along with the class action lawsuit, claim that Apple and book publishers forced online retailers into the agency book pricing model. The agency model lets the publishers set book pricing instead of retailers, and the companies involved are said to have used that to drive up ebook prices.

Apple claims it did nothing wrong and said it is ready to move forward with a trial in the DOJ case. Macmillan and Penguin both claim, too, that they didn’t do anything wrong by switching to the agency pricing model.