updated 03:49 pm EDT, Wed May 30, 2012
Says Steve Jobs quotes will 'speak for themselves'
Apple has now filed a legal response to the similar-but-separate e-book "price-fixing" class-action lawsuit brought by 31 states that mirrors the charges against Apple and two of the five major publishers being pursued by the Department of Justice. Though covering many of the same points and defenses enumerated in the DOJ response, the company argues for dismissal of the civil lawsuit as being a duplicate of the ongoing federal one, among other defenses.
The iPhone maker, in its response to the class-action charges, promises that quotes by Steve Jobs used in the DOJ lawsuit will "speak for themselves" and demonstrate that they are being misinterpreted or taken out of context. The document admits that "representatives of each of the publishers separately expressed varying degrees of unhappiness with Amazon's tactics, including its pricing" but also demonstrates by way of exhibits that its contracts with each publisher were similar but not identical, demonstrating that Apple did not orchestrate a conspiracy.
Primarily, however, the response seeks reconsideration of a dismissal of the class-action suit on the grounds that some publishers have already settled with the states in question, and that the suit completely overlaps the federal lawsuit, meaning it would be unfair for both actions to go forward. The company has consistently denied that it conspired to fix prices, was involved in any conspiracy and has done nothing wrong. The "agency model" Apple pushed for that enabled publishers to stand up to Amazon's predatory pricing policies is pointed to as a long-standing traditional model and not an Apple invention.
Thus far, Apple has not had much luck persuading authorities that it is innocent. A federal judge threw out a similar request for dismissal, saying there was "plenty of evidence" that Apple had acted to undercut Amazon (which at the time had a near-monopoly on e-book sales) and set higher book prices. Apple suggested to publishers that e-book prices should be around $12-15, but the contracts make clear that publishers, not Apple, set the prices as they wished.
Legal experts have said that given Judge Denise Cote's earlier ruling on dismissal in the civil lawsuit, the likelihood of Apple succeeding with its latest dismissal request is low. Two of the five major publishers, MacMillan and Penguin Group, along with the Author's Guild, have expressed support for Apple's case and version of events. All five publishers fear that Amazon's deep-discount policies on e-books will lower the value of the format and drive smaller publishers out of business.
Apple Response to Class Action