Apple formally appeals ebook antitrust ruling - does it stand a chance?

Apple formally appeals ebook antitrust ruling - does it stand a chance?

Apple on Tuesday filed paperwork with the New York federal court to appeal a 2013 ruling that found the company in violation of antitrust laws regarding its iBooks publishing arrangements with major book publishers. Reuters:

Apple filed its formal written arguments before the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the appeals court to overturn the judgment in Apple's favor, or grant a new trial in front of a different judge.

Apple and six book publishers were sued by the Department of Justice in 2010 over its ebook pricing. Last year Judge Denise Cote found Apple guilty of collusion with book publishers to raise ebook pricing. Rather than using a wholesale model of selling ebooks, the system Amazon employs for Kindle content, Apple used what's called an "agency model," selling the ebook for the retail price set by the publisher.

That in and of itself isn't illegal, but Apple created a "conspiracy among the defendants" to limit price competition, according to the DOJ. Judge Cote agreed, and put in place an antitrust monitor who Apple calls a disrputive and unnecessary imposition.

In the papers filed on Tuesday, Apple says that its entry into the ebooks market has actually "kick-started competition" in a market dominated by and its Kindle product, rather than stifling it.

But competition with Amazon and Amazon's comparative dominance in ebooks aren't the issues here. The DOJ complaint and the ruling focused on how Apple managed its pricing model with book publishers. And those publishers all settled rather than go to court.

What do you think? Will Apple win on appeal, or are they doomed to failure here too? Sound off in the comments.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Apple formally appeals ebook antitrust ruling - does it stand a chance?


Let's accept a few facts right from the top.

Apple was caught red handed in emails & other communications presented as evidence to the court trying to encourage the publishers to raise prices. Eddy Cue himself testified to this fact. According to the US Dept of Justice that was collusion & it's illegal. The court agreed.

Let's also accept that Judge Denise Cote & her court appointed monitor have proven to be less than upfront about their own checkered involvement in past cases. Now Apple can make a case. a good one I think, that a new trial may be in order or at the very least this judge be removed. And Mr Bromwich, who strikes me as being on an 'Apple Autograph Tour' with his attempts to meet Tim Cook, Jony Ive, & Al Gore among others appears to be starstruck or at the very least sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. He was overreaching into areas of Apple's business that had no place in his court ordered oversight. The judge was right to reign him in after repeated requests. Now does any of this reach the level of granting a mistrial? I'm no legal eagle but I doubt it.

In my view Apple has made itself a high profile target for regulators. For evidence of this look no further than Apple getting involved in the law passed by Arizona's legislature. They are asking the governor to veto that law. Agree or disagree with the law in principle, I happen to not agree, but state your case & leave it at that. No corporation, if they are smart, commingles with gov't any more than absolutely necessary. Apple has done a big no no here. Look no further than Microsoft in the 90s when Bill Gates boasted about virtually all govt's in the western world being dependent on Microsoft software to operate. Well that turned out real well didn't it?

I don't know Peter, Apple might better just take the punishment on this ebooks case & learn a lesson lest it be applied tenfold in the future.

It's one thing to raise prices (even after colluding), but the reasons for doing so have to be taken into account. If it's simply to increase profits, straight up guilty. But if it's to prevent industry collapse or to fight product dumping by another seller, that's another.

Reasons have nothing to do with justice, or the act is legal or the act is illegal.

If anyone thought there was dumping they had to sue, not do an illegal action


You are a true FANBOY to the core even when you're being taken for a sucker. Your kind is just another reason why I will NEVER buy another iANYTHING device. The whole I will fall on my sword for Apple attitude makes me want to vomit.

It was simply a stupid idea to make all large publishers sign a MFN clause at once. If they would have started with one and a few smaller ones, and added others over a few months... It would have been about impossible to accuse them of anything. I totally agree with what they did, but they could have been more clever about it.

I do not think they will get out of this, but they might get rid of the monitor, or at least get one who sticks to his task and is maybe even able to fulfill it without hiring somebody else. Cote seems to collude with this clown quite a bit.

All I know is ebooks used to be relatively cheap until Apple got involved.

Sent from the iMore App

Both statements are correct. The Salon piece conveniently includes self published books, while the trial only dealt with the big publishers.

Apple even admitted in court that the price of eBooks went up due to their involvement, so I'm not sure why this is disputed by anyone,

>Ebooks are still cheap after Apple got into the act.

Wrong, accused publisher prices went UP.

Perhaps, before calling others uneducated it is better to be sure that you're right

They *shouldnt* stand a chance. They might be able to argue the current punishment is too severe, but their own documents showed they inspired competitors to collude and used the threat of a market in which they hold a dominant position as leverage in another market. Both are clearly illegal.

Sent from the iMore App

"...their own documents showed they inspired competitors to collude..."

IIRC, the only email that came close to that was never sent, which makes this kind of a "thought crime"

"... and used the threat of a market in which they hold a dominant position as leverage in another market."

That is illegal, but I don't think even the DOJ asserts that Apple did that. Who would they have threatened, and with what? (how were the eBook publishers threatened? ...with umm...something about digital music? Was Amazon threatened? How?)

I doubt Cue did what Mike Elgan wrote and yet to see this piece of fantasy being confirmed by another writer.

Quoting Elgan is like quoting Enderle - google them and you can seamy point of view.

Btw can the words of cultofmac be trusted?