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Court date set for Apple's alleged ebook price fixing trial

Apple is due in court next summer over accusations of price fixing, along with some book publishers.

Apple and two book publishers are due in court in a year's time over allegedly conspiring to fix the price of ebooks.

A US judge has set the court date for 3 June, 2013, Reuters reports. Macmillan and Penguin Group will join Apple in court to fight the charges.

The US Justice Department sued Apple in April, alleging it colluded with publishers to boost ebook prices back in early 2010, when the Cupertino company was gearing up to launch the iPad. The iPad is a popular reading device, thanks to the iBooks app.

Apple denies the claims, saying it has actually expanded the market thanks to its hugely popular tablet. It argues the tablet has been a kick up the backside (not Apple's words) to rivals, spurring them on to make more advanced ebook readers.

Lawyers for the book companies and US states bringing the claims said the publishers will submit a settlement proposal to the judge by the end of the summer. That means there's a chance the case will never see court.

Speaking about the settlement, Gary Becker, a Connecticut assistant attorney general, said he was "confident that we'll get all 50 states and six territories and commonwealths to sign on."

Apple's iBooks launched around the same time as the original iPad. Then the follow-up, iBooks 2, came out earlier this year, touting a brand new Textbook section.

Amazon's Kindle Fire is the closest rival to the iPad as far as tablet ebook readers go, and is also much cheaper, but still isn't available on these shores. Waterstones announced recently it'll sell the Kindle range of products, shelving plans for its own ebook reader.

Do you think iBooks has had a significant impact on the ebook market? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.