In a story that would, ironically, make a pretty good eBook holiday thriller, Apple has dredged up its seemingly-ended eBook pricing conspiracy lawsuit — asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling stating that Apple conspired to fix eBook prices when it launched its original iPad and iBook store in January 2010.
Yep, it’s the return of the lawsuit that will never end!
Apple was found guilty last year of colluding with publishers to raise ebook prices, but now that the antitrust case is being heard by the Second U.S. Court of Appeals, two out of the three appellate judges are starting to see things Apple’s way.
The appeals case kicked off this morning with Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart attempting to compare Apple to a driver taking a narcotics dealer to a drug pick up. The analogy was supposed to make the point that if Apple knew publishers were conspiring to fix ebook prices, it was just as guilty as them for facilitating the conspiracy. However, Fortune reports that Judge Denis Jacobs laughed off the analogy, pointing out that drug trafficking is one of the few “industries in which the law does not look with favor or new entrants.”
The comment drew a chorus of laughs in the courtroom, but Judge Jacob’s concerns went even further, as the the judge questioned whether the government should have even brought the case to court.
While Apple decided to hold out for a court battle — that it eventually lost — five of the publishers involved in the iBookStore price fixing antitrust case have already reached settlements with the DOJ. Two of those publishers, Penguin and Macmillan, are already sending out emails to customers to notify them that they’re eligible to receive iTunes credit, or a check for the settlement.
The European Commission announced today that it has reached a deal with publisher Penguin regarding the e-book price fixing charges raised by the EU back in 2012.
Like the four other publishers charged with colluding with Apple to fix the price of e-books, Penguin has agreed to ditch Apple’s agency model for e-books that let publishers set prices for e-books while distributors like Apple, Amazon or Barnes & Noble get a cut of the sale.