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Apple files appeal in e-book antitrust case

Apple calls judge's ruling that it conspired with publishers to fix e-book prices "a radical departure from modern antitrust law and policy."

Apple filed an appeal Tuesday of a federal judge's ruling last year that the company violated US antitrust laws by conspiring with publishers to fix e-book prices.

The appeal, filed with the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, called the ruling last July by US District Court Judge Denise Cote "a radical departure from modern antitrust law and policy" that if allowed to stand "would stifle innovation, chill competition, and harm consumers."

In April 2012, the Justice Department sued Apple along with five of the six largest book publishers in the US, accusing them of conspiring to set e-book prices and working together to break Amazon's hold on the market with its Kindle e-book reader. Those publishers settled, leaving Apple and the Justice Department to duke it out in court.

After a trial, Cote ruled last July that "without Apple's orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did." The Justice Department initially proposed a set of remedies that would have impacted Apple's existing agreements with the five major publishers, though those two provisions have been softened since the ruling.

In its appeal Tuesday, Apple said its entry into the e-book market "marked the beginning, not the end, of competition" in the sector.

Apple's entry into the market "kick-started competition in a highly concentrated market, delivering higher output, lower price levels, and accelerated innovation," the 75-page filing stated (see below).

The company also requested that the federally-appointed monitor's work be suspended pending appeal, calling the Cote's monitor provision "unprecedented and unconstitutional." Apple has been fighting for the removal of the monitor, former Assistant US Attorney and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich, who was appointed by Cote last October to keep tabs on the company's compliance with antitrust laws.

CNET has contacted the Justice Department for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

Apple's filing:

Apple Appeal eBooks