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Apple appeals in anti-trust ebook row

Court battles drag on
Wed Feb 26 2014, 14:20
Apple logo on New York store

APPLE HAS FILED AN APPEAL against a US court anti-trust ruling that found the Cupertino firm guilty of conspiring to fix ebook prices.

It was accused of orchestrating a cartel involving five of the six largest book publishers in the US that allegedly fixed prices to undercut Amazon's Kindle prices, thereby breaking its market dominance.

After the publishers settled, Apple stood its ground, but in a ruling last year, US District Court judge Denise Cote found in favour of the US Justice Department, which brought the action.

The ruling also resulted in the implementation of a monitor appointed by the US government to ensure that Apple and its rivals played fair. Apple has claimed in the appeal that the court's imposition of this monitor is unconstitutional.

In its appeal brief, Apple argued that it had no knowledge of the conspiracy at the time that it was found to have joined, stating, "This finding forms the bedrock of the court's entire decision and is demonstrably wrong."

The 65-page document requests either a reversal of the decision or a retrial before another judge, rather than Judge Cote.

While the ebook market continues to flourish, prices are still high, especially compared to used paperbacks. With Amazon Kindle taking such a dominant market position, Judge Cote believed that Apple attempted to promote the use of its iPad as an ereader through its involvement in a cartel.

At present, there is no ebook standard in the US, with Apple, Kindle and Kobo all using different file types and protection systems, and the major ebook players continue the battle to lock in customers to their respective formats. µ


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