Apple appeals in antitrust case

Apple appeals last year's anti-trust verdict, arguing that the company “had no knowledge" of a conspiracy to fix prices.

Eric Risberg/AP
Earlier this week, Apple filed an appeal of a judge's ruling that it violated antitrust laws.

In a significant shift in the Apple e-books antitrust case, Apple Tuesday filed an appeal of a judge’s ruling that it violated US antitrust laws by conspiring with publishers to fix e-book prices.

Apple said the judge’s ruling “is a radical departure” from modern antitrust law that will “chill competition and harm consumers” if allowed to stand.

Apple asked the Second US Court of Appeals to overturn the judgment in Apple’s favor, or grant a new trial with a different judge. It also said its court-appointed monitor was “unprecedented and unconstitutional” and asked that the monitor’s work be suspended until an appeals court decides if it was correctly appointed.

Apple had indicated it would seek an appeal if the judgment was not in its favor.

In April 2012, the Department of Justice sued Apple and five of the six major US publishers for conspiring to set e-book prices in order to break Amazon’s dominance of the market. The publishers all eventually settled, leaving Apple to resolve the matter in court.

Last July US District Judge Denise Cote ruled that Apple had colluded with major book publishers to raise the price of e-books in a price-fixing conspiracy. The company was given a court-appointed monitor and could pay up to $840 million in antitrust claims.

But in papers filed Tuesday, Apple refuted the ruling, saying it “had no knowledge that the publishers were engaged in a conspiracy at the time.” Apple also argued that by entering the e-book market, it “kick-started competition in a highly concentrated market, delivering higher output, lower price levels, and accelerated innovation.”

The appeal extends a high-profile, high-stakes case that will shape the future of the e-books industry. We’re expecting more legal battles to come.

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