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Supreme Court Rejects Apple E-Books Conspiracy Appeal

by Reuters /
A file photo of Apple's logo at a store in Washington.SHAWN THEW / EPA

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Apple's challenge to an appellate court decision that it conspired with five publishers to increase e-book prices, meaning it will have to pay $450 million as part of a settlement.

The court's decision not to hear the case leaves in place a June 2015 ruling by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that favored the U.S. Department of Justice and found Apple liable for engaging in a conspiracy that violated federal antitrust laws.

Apple, in its petition asking the high court to hear the case, said the June decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upholding a judge's ruling that Apple had conspired with the publishers contradicted Supreme Court precedent and would "chill innovation and risk-taking."

Read More: Apple E-Book Business No Longer Needs an Antitrust Monitor

The 2nd Circuit's ruling followed a 2013 decision by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote after a non-jury trial that Apple played a "central role" in a conspiracy with publishers to eliminate retail price competition and raise e-book prices.

“Apple’s liability for knowingly conspiring with book publishers to raise the prices of e-books is settled once and for all,” said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s antitrust division, in a statement. “And consumers will be made whole. The outstanding work of the Department of Justice team — working with our steadfast state attorney general partners — exposed this cynical misconduct by Apple and its book publisher co-conspirators and ensured that justice was done.”

The Justice Department said the scheme caused some e-book prices to rise to $12.99 or $14.99 from the $9.99 price charged by market leader Amazon.com.

Publishers that the Justice Department said conspired with Apple include Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan.

On Feb. 17, the appeals court in New York upheld the proposed settlement, which had been challenged by an e-books purchaser.

Read More: Court Agrees Apple Violated Antitrust Law in E-Book Entry

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