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US Justice Department Sues Apple Over e-Book Price Fixing

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Updated: Apple and publishers are hit with US DoJ suit over price fixing

The US Justice Department has sued Apple over allegations that it has engaged in price fixing for e-books.

The lawsuit accuses the iPad maker of working with HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster to fix prices of e-books.

Price Fixing

The group allegedly plotted to raise ebook prices in response to the ongoing domination of the sector by Amazon, which is enjoying remarkable success in this field thanks to its Kindle e-Reader.

According to Reuters, which cited two people familiar with the matter, the US Justice Department could sue Apple as soon as today ~(Wednesday 11 April 2012). It also said that it had settled the matter with other publishers earlier this week.

Bloomberg meanwhile reported that Apple and Macmillan have refused to engage in settlement talks with the Justice Department, and apparently deny they colluded to raise prices for digital books. It also cited two people familiar with the matter.

According to Bloomberg, Gina Talamona, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department’s antitrust division, and representatives of Apple, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin and Macmillan, declined to comment on prospects for lawsuits or settlements.

In January Apple used a high profile media event to launch a new education initiative that aims to “reinvent textbooks”, by using technology to make the classroom more engaging for students.

Apple’s iBooks 2 is designed to bring a “new textbook experience” to the iPad, which the company views as an evolution beyond traditional paperbound textbooks.

In early March Apple was warned that it, along with five e-book publishers, had to address all of the European Commission’s antitrust concerns before a price-fixing investigation could be closed.

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