US e-Book price fixing lawsuit against Apple updated


US e-Book price fixing lawsuit against Apple updated

Warwick Ashford

Lawyers representing US citizens have filed an updated class-action lawsuit against Apple and several book publishers, accusing them of fixing the prices of e-books to boost profits.

The updated complaint includes new allegations and statements from publishing executives that provide additional backing to the lawsuit’s claims.

The defendants include top publishers such as HarperCollins, Macmillan and Penguin.

The e-book price-fixing class-action lawsuit filed in August 2011 claims publishers conspired with Apple to force Amazon to adopt a new agency model in which publishers set prices directly, effectively ending Amazon’s ability to set its own prices.

After the publishers adopted the new pricing model, the price of e-books shot up 30%, according to the updated complaint.

“The information we’ve included in this new filing shows the deep antagonism that publishers had toward Amazon for its consumer-friendly pricing,” said Steve Berman, managing partner at law firm Hagens Berman.

“Since we began the action last August we’ve uncovered statements from executives at several publishers that demonstrate they viewed Amazon as a significant threat to the long-term survival of their profitability,” he said.

The updated complaint also includes new information first exposed in Walter Isaacson’s biography, Steve Jobs, including a passage in which Jobs says, “Amazon screwed it up”, causing Apple to suggest a transition to the agency model.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the purchasers of e-books, an injunction against pricing e-books with the agency model and forfeiture of the illegal profits received by the defendants as a result of their anti-competitive conduct which could total tens of millions of dollars.

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