Apple has been accused in a U.S. government antitrust lawsuit of being the ringleader in a conspiracy with publishers to fix e-Book prices. The trial will feature evidence from its deceased founder, Steve Jobs.
Justice Department attorney, Lawrence Buterman, said a dramatic price increase in e-books was “no accident or unforeseen outcome” but the result of a deliberate plan by Apple and five book publishers to eliminate Amazon.com’s US$9.99 bargain price for popular e-books.
Apple claims it did nothing wrong and says it helped consumers by bringing innovation and competition to an e-books market that was dominated by Amazon.
Apple lawyer Orin Snyder said “Apple is going to trial because it did nothing wrong. Apple did not conspire with any publisher individually, collectively or otherwise to raise industry prices.”
Buterman, in his opening statement, displayed emails from Jobs published in Walter Isaacson’s 2011 authorized biography of the Apple founder.
Snyder said the idea that Jobs would have admitted to illegal price-fixing, to his biographer and in a recorded press interview, is far-fetched.
Despite claims the government is seeking no damages and is only seeking to block Apple from engaging in similar conduct, the other five publishers have settled, and Apple are being urged to pay. In fact they may have to pay “civil penalties to consumers”. Bloomberg.com reports that “The publishers have settled with the U.S., with states and with private plaintiffs for a total of at least $164 million.”