A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on Tuesday denied petitions [opinion, PDF; press release] by book publishers and Apple [corporate website] to dismiss a class action lawsuit alleging that companies are illegally conspiring to fix electronic book (e-book) prices. The lawsuit was originally filed [JURIST report] in August. The complaint alleges that Apple and five major book 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]. By denying the companies' motion to dismiss, Judge Denise Cote allowed the class action lawsuit to continue.
Last month the antitrust division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a similar complaint [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York accusing Apple and other major publishers of colluding to illegally fix e-book prices. 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.