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Apple says decision to face DOJ trial voluntary, talks to EU

updated 07:35 pm EDT, Wed April 18, 2012

Apple eager to determine case in court

Apple on Wednesday stated that its confronting a Department of Justice lawsuit over e-book pricing was deliberate. Attorney Daniel Floyd told Judge Denise Cote that Apple believed the lawsuit was "not an appropriate case" and wanted to prove itself in court. The company wanted this to be "decided on the merits," Reuters heard while observing Floyd at a hearing.

A next hearing on the case won't come until June 22, but the settlements with three of the five publishers targeted by the initial lawsuit would void Apple's agency model contract and no-lower-price agrements with these companies, letting Amazon and others both set the price themselves and undercut the iBookstore. Apple, publishers, and the Author's Guild have complained that this would let Amazon reclaim its monopoly by resuming its price dumping, where it sells below cost to squeeze out rivals.

Simon & Schuster said that it may nonetheless join the settlement itself. Macmillan if so may be the lone holdout among publishers.

Despite appearing intransigent, Apple may be the best-equipped to win in the DOJ lawsuit. While the agency has evidence publishers met with each other to discuss prices, strongly implying collusion, Apple was never present at these meetings. Simply requiring the agency model and the best possible price isn't inherently illegal for a company with minority share, as publishers could simply choose to do business elsewhere.

EU regulators are looking at Apple and publishers as well, but Apple and all publishers save for Penguin are said to be offering settlement proposals. Why Apple would settle in Europe but not the US isn't apparent, other than possibly to consolidate legal efforts.

by MacNN Staff



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