“In a stern rebuke to Apple Inc.’s electronic-books sales strategy, a federal judge found the company colluded with five major U.S. publishers to artificially drive up the prices of e-books in the months ahead of its entering the market in 2010,” Chad Bray and Joe Palazzolo report for The Wall Street Journal.

“During the three-week civil antitrust trial, the Justice Department argued that Apple agreed with the publishers in January 2010 to allow them to set a higher price for best sellers and new releases in response to the publishers’ ‘Amazon problem’: a $9.99 price point for those books on Amazon.com Inc.,” Bray and Palazzolo report. “Prices for e-book best sellers rose to $12.99 and $14.99 as a result, the government claimed in its lawsuit.”

“‘The plaintiffs have shown that the publisher defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy,’ U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said in a 160-page ruling. ‘Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the Spring of 2010,'” Bray and Palazzolo report. “Because Apple was found liable for violating U.S. antitrust laws, a hearing will now take place in a separate lawsuit brought by state attorneys general, who are seeking to recover damages on behalf of consumers who paid higher prices for e-books.”

Read more in the full article here.

Peter klafka reports for AllThingsD, “Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr says the company will appeal. Here’s his comment: ‘Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations. When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We’ve done nothing wrong and we will appeal the judge’s decision.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Since the judge made her “decision” before the trial even began, we’d expect nothing less but for Apple to take this to the next level and, if necessary, beyond.

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