Wednesday 22 October 2014

Apple in $840m lawsuit over price-fixing claims

Patricia Hurtado and Christie Smythe

Published 03/02/2014 | 02:30

Apple CEO Tim Cook met Taoiseach Enda Kenny on a recent visit to the company's plant in Cork
Apple CEO Tim Cook met Taoiseach Enda Kenny on a recent visit to the company's plant in Cork

Apple faces as much as $840m (€623m) in state and consumer antitrust claims related to electronic book deals with publishers that led to a US lawsuit and court-ordered monitor.

State attorneys general and consumers who sued the world's most valuable technology company over its e-book pricing are seeking $280m in damages and want that amount tripled, a lawyer for them said to the federal judge in Manhattan who presided over the US case against Apple.

The plaintiffs say they're entitled to triple damages under antitrust law as the US had already "conclusively proven" at a 2013 trial that Apple orchestrated a conspiracy to fix prices.

The amount sought is 0.5pc of the $158.8bn in cash that the Cupertino, California-based company reported that it had as of the end of 2013.

Sales of e-books, music, movies, software and services were $12.9bn in 2012, 8.2pc of Apple's total revenue.

Apple introduced e-books in 2010 to boost the appeal of the newly unveiled iPad tablet as a reading device.

US district judge Denise Cote concluded in July, after a non-jury trial, that Apple orchestrated a scheme with publishers to fix the prices of e-books.

Judge Cote also found Apple liable to 33 states that joined the US Justice Department in its suit. The Justice Department didn't seek money damages in its case.

Judge Cote said she will hold a trial this year on the damages sought by the states.

While almost all documents filed by the states and Apple have been redacted or filed under seal, the plaintiffs said in a memo to Cote "the conspiracy caused widespread antitrust injury to e-book consumers" that an expert set at at least $280m. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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