Tech Industry

Judge says she won't suspend ruling in Apple e-books case

That likely means Apple will have to face whatever remedies the court sets, which could include ending its current contracts with e-book publishers.

Who gets to set the price of e-books was at the heart of the government's antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five major publishers.
It looks like there's no lucky break for Apple in the e-books price-fixing trial.

Judge Denise Cote on Friday declined to temporarily suspend her ruling from last month that Apple broke antitrust laws by conspiring with e-book publishers, according to a report from the Associated Press.

What that likely means is that Apple will have to obey whatever sanctions are imposed on the company, even with an appeal pending. Cote wasn't expected to suspend her decision.

Apple and the Justice Department currently are presenting arguments in a New York court about steps the company has to take to resolve antitrust issues. Cote, of the Southern District of New York, last month ruled that Apple conspired with publishers to hurt competition and raise e-book prices.

The Justice Department last week issued its proposalsfor ways "to halt Apple's anticompetitive conduct, restore lost competition, and prevent a recurrence of the illegal activities." The three big pieces of that proposal were that Apple would end its existing agreements with the five major publishers, let other e-book publishers link to their own bookstores in iOS apps, and staff an antitrust monitor to evaluate its business for five years. Apple fired back last week, calling the government's proposals vague, overreaching, unwarranted, and even "draconian."

In a filing Wednesday, the five major book publishers weighed in, arguing that one of those stipulations -- ending the existing agreements -- would completely eliminate a pricing model that's become the industry standard. The publishers also said it would break agreements the Justice Department made with each of them when they settled.

The Justice Department responded again before Friday's hearing, saying that Apple shouldn't "be rewarded" with the same sanctions as the e-book publishers that settled with the U.S. government. It also argued that it's not seeking to modify publishers' settlements with the Justice Department or punishing those companies.

Rather, it believes the remedies it has proposed are "necessary to rid the e-book market of the effects of a successful, long-running price-fixing conspiracy, and to restore this market to competitive health."