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MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has found Apple Inc. liable for violating the antitrust laws by conspiring with major U.S. publishers to fix the prices of e-books. The Court found that Apple “played a central role in facilitating and executing” the conspiracy to raise e-book prices, and that “Apple’s orchestration” of the conspiracy was necessary to its success.
“Wisconsin and 32 other states pursued this case because Apple violated the antitrust laws, resulting in consumers paying more for e-books. The Court, having heard all of the evidence, agreed,” Van Hollen said. “At trial, the states and the U.S. Department of Justice demonstrated that Apple and its executives were unwilling to compete on price with other retailers of e-books, and conspired with the publishers to fix and raise prices. When businesses engage in illegal activity to the detriment of Wisconsin consumers, they must be held accountable. We look forward to pursuing the next phase of this litigation – recovery of damages for those consumers who were harmed.”
The Court’s order comes after a three-week bench trial that began June 3 before Judge Denise Cote. The trial did not address the issue of damages, which will be the subject of a future proceeding.
The publishers, Hachette Book Group Inc.; HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C.; Simon & Schuster Inc.; Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan; and Penguin Group (USA), Inc., had settled the states’ claims against them prior to trial for approximately $166 million nationwide. Final approvals of some of these publisher settlements are still pending before the court.
Assistant Attorney General Gwendolyn J. Cooley represents the State of Wisconsin in this matter. A copy of the decision is available here.