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DOJ accuses Apple, publishers of e-book price fixing conspiracy

The anti-trust division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a complaint [text, PDF] on Wednesday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] accusing Apple [corporate website] and other major publishers of colluding to illegally fix electronic book (e-book) prices. The complaint alleges that Apple and publishing companies, including HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster, conspired to increase e-book prices in an effort to compete with e-books and the economically-priced Kindle [product page] sold by Amazon [corporate website]. The DOJ investigation of the defendants' conduct revealed conversations between company executives in which they agreed to proceed under the guise of a joint venture in order to raise prices. The lawsuit claims that the defendants' conduct constitutes violations of the Sherman Act [text], and the DOJ is requesting declaratory and injunctive relief. US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] also announced [speech text] Wednesday that, in response to the lawsuit, three of the publishing companies agreed to settlements with the DOJ.

The DOJ lawsuit is strikingly similar to a class action lawsuit [JURIST report] filed in August in the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website]. The lawsuit claims that Apple's conduct constitutes violations of federal and state antitrust laws, including the Sherman Act, the Cartwright Act and the Unfair Competition Act [texts]. The European Commission for Competition [official website] announced in December that it will investigate Apple for anti-competitive practices [JURIST report] in connection with its dealings with several publishers.

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About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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