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Federal judge issues injunction against Apple in e-book price fixing case

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on Friday entered an injunction [order, PDF] against Apple [corporate website] preventing the company from future antitrust violations in connection with e-book price fixing. The injunction, rendered by Judge Denise Cote, forbids Apple from making any contractual relations with publishing companies that "restricts, limits, or impedes Apple's ability to set, alter, or reduce the Retail Price of any E-book." In addition, the decision requires the court to appoint an "external compliance monitor" who will have the power and authority to review and evaluate Apple's existing anti-trust compliance procedures and policies during a two year period. The terms of the injunction are binding for five years, with the court maintaining the option to renew the injunction in one-year increments. Apple stated they would appeal the decision [Reuters report].

This injunction follows a July decision by Cote, who ruled [JURIST report] that Apple violated the Sherman Act [text] and various state statutes in an e-book price-fixing conspiracy. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] accused Apple of working with major publishers to increase the price of their e-books. Five publishers, Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Simon & Schuster Inc., Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Macmillan, were originally named in the complaint [text, PDF] but since reached a settlement with the government. In May Cote gave a tentative opinion [JURST report] that the government would be successful in its antitrust claim. The DOJ alleged that Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster conspired to fix the prices of e-books in response to Amazon's discount pricing strategy. The DOJ originally brought the suit in April 2012, and the court denied a motion to dismiss [JURIST reports] in May of last year.

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