Obama admin trying to throw the book at Apple; U.S. DOJ goes after an innovator whose market entry reduced prices

“Steve Jobs is remembered as the Thomas Edison of Silicon Valley, but Washington’s trust busters would like to add one more legacy: That the Apple cofounder tried to suppress competition as the ‘ringmaster’ of a conspiracy to fix digital book prices that nonetheless caused prices to fall,” The Wall Street Journal editorializes.

“At least that’s the legal theory behind the federal show trial against Apple that got underway last week, which is incoherent even by the standards of modern antitrust. The Justice Department contends that Apple plotted with five publishers to artificially inflate the costs of books in 2009-2010,” WSJ writes. “Yet the average retail price for ‘trade’ e-books has since dropped to $7.34 from $7.97… Lower prices, more sellers and better products don’t sound like a return to the days of Standard Oil, so Justice’s Antitrust Division conjured up a complaint by looking at the prices for the digital versions of new and bestselling books, which have jumped by a few cents. Justice blames this on Apple’s so-called ‘agency’ sales model… Apple maintains its innocence, with important legal implications. The Justice Department is trying to set a dangerous new theory of antitrust liability, contrary to multiple legal precedents going back to the 1980s.”

WSJ writes, “The government’s evidence is mostly out-of-context emails and innuendo… The book publishers hated the $14.99 cap Apple insisted on to maintain standard pricing across its bookstore, but Justice cites these ceilings that constrain the ability to raise prices in a case allegedly about raising prices… So too for a “most favored nation” clause in the contract that said Apple store e-books must match the cheapest market price. This is a tool for keeping prices down.”

“Amazon and Apple are both innovative, rich, ruthless companies, so this case is hardly David versus Goliath—unless Goliath is the Justice Department abusing its discretion to favor one over the other,” WSJ writes. “The larger spectacle is the Obama Administration attempting to dictate how the book industry and online commerce must be structured in a way that benefits an incumbent like Amazon in what is otherwise a fluid, dynamic market. The case reveals how degraded antitrust law has become as its lawyers search for reasons to justify their existence.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote the day the DOJ filed this lawsuit, “The U.S. DOJ is plainly inept.”

Once again: Killing real competition for the appearance of competition is just plain stupid.

Related articles:
Apple’s Eddy Cue denies price-fixing allegations at U.S v. Apple e-books trial – June 13, 2013
Apple fires back at DOJ with email Steve Jobs actually sent – June 13, 2013
Is Steve Jobs’ unsent email a smoking gun in Apple e-book case? – June 12, 2013
Winds shift toward Apple in U.S. DOJ’s e-book trial – June 12, 2013
Day 5 of the Apple ebooks trial: Publishing execs testify; Rupert Murdoch’s role – June 11, 2013
U.S. v. Apple iBookstore case could go to the Supreme Court – June 5, 2013
Apple accuses DOJ of unfairly twisting Steve Jobs’ words in e-book case – June 4, 2013
U.S. DOJ prosecutors accuse Apple of driving up e-book prices – June 3, 2013
U.S. v. Apple goes to trial; DOJ claims e-book price-fixing conspiracy with Apple as ringmaster – June 3, 2013
U.S. DOJ takes Apple to trial alleging e-book price-fixing – June 2, 2013
In pretrial view, judge says leaning toward U.S. DOJ over Apple in e-books case – May 24, 2013
Penguin to pay $75 million in e-book settlement with US State Attorneys General – May 23, 2013
The hot mess that is Apple’s e-book legal fight with U.S. DOJ – May 16, 2013
Apple: Deals with publishers improved e-books competition – May 15, 2013
Apple tells U.S. DOJ of tough talks, not collusion, with publishers – May 15, 2013
EU ends e-book pricing antitrust probe into e-book pricing; accepts offer by Apple, four publishers – December 13, 2012
Apple, publishers offer EU e-book antitrust settlement – September 19, 2012
Judge rubber-stamps U.S. e-books settlement – September 6, 2012
Apple, four publishers offer e-books antitrust concessions, says source – August 31, 2012
Apple bashes Amazon, calls U.S. DOJ settlement proposal ‘fundamentally unfair, unlawful, and unprecedented’ – August 16, 2012
U.S. antitrust settlement with e-book publishers should be approved, feds say – August 4, 2012
U.S. Justice Department slams Apple, refuses to modify e-book settlement – July 23, 2012
U.S. senator Schumer: Myopic DOJ needs to drop Apple e-books suit – July 18, 2012
Apple’s U.S. e-books antitrust case set for 2013 trial – June 24, 2012
U.S. government complains, claims Apple trying to rush e-books antitrust case – June 21, 2012
Barnes & Noble blasts U.S. DOJ e-book settlement proposal – June 7, 2012
Apple: U.S. government’s e-book antitrust lawsuit ‘is fundamentally flawed as a matter of fact and law’ – May 24, 2012
Federal Judge rejects Apple and publishers’ attempt to dismiss civil case alleging e-book price-fixing – May 15, 2012
Court documents reveal Steve Jobs email pushing e-book agency model; 17 more states join class action suit – May 15, 2012
Apple vs. Amazon: Who’s really fixing eBook prices? – April 17, 2012
Apple: U.S. DOJ’s accusation of collusion against iBookstore is simply not true – April 12, 2012
Apple not likely to be a loser in legal fight over eBooks – April 12, 2012
16 U.S. states join DOJ’s eBook antitrust action against Apple, publishers – April 12, 2012
Australian gov’t considers suing Apple, five major publishers over eBook pricing – April 12, 2012
DOJ’s panties in a bunch over Apple and eBooks, but what about Amazon? – April 12, 2012
Antitrust experts: Apple likely to beat U.S. DOJ, win its eBook lawsuit – April 12, 2012
Why the market shrugged off the Apple antitrust suit – April 11, 2012
What’s wrong with the U.S. DOJ? – April 11, 2012
Macmillan CEO blasts U.S. DOJ; gov’t on verge of killing real competition for appearance of competition – April 11, 2012
U.S. DOJ hits Apple, major publishers with antitrust lawsuit, alleges collusion on eBook prices – April 11, 2012
U.S. DOJ may sue Apple over ebook price-fixing as early as today, sources say – April 11, 2012


  1. Here’s the rule: if you have money, they will attempt to raid you. Doesn’t matter what you may or may not have done. It will be labeled in such a way to make it seem benign, but thats where things are going.

    1. “The U.S. DOJ is plainly BOUGHT.”

      Some DOJ officials will certainly continue their careers in the lobbying legal companies that are hired by Amazon.

      (It is not hyperbole, It is nothing new, it happens in Washington all the time — all key positions are revolving doors between government, lobbyists and corporations.)

      1. Dude get a clue.
        The Attorney General, who directly runs the DOJ, is appointed by and sits at the pleasure of the President.
        That means if the Attorney General (and by extension the DOJ) isn’t doing exactly what the President wants he can replace him. No explanations or approvals necessary.
        So, you are essentially saying that the President of the United States has been bought by Amazon? Absurd.

        1. “So, you are essentially saying that the President of the United States has been bought by Amazon?”

          Exactly! It’s business as usual, Chicago style. Sell a US Senatorial seat? Sure, why not? Strong-arm Apple for protection money? SOP in Chicago. Obama is up to his neck in all of it. Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS leaning on enemies? Yep, it’s Nixon all over again.

          1. While I agree with most of your sentiment (intimigate, gun running, etc… actually I think he far eclipses Nixon in terms of the scope and depth of intimidation) Only a fool could be unaware of the gravity of what has occurred (though there seems to be far more of those than I would have guessed)

            However, I think this animosity is about taking down a capitalist success story. Apple is an icon of what the US is all about. Built from the ground up, they are at once fantastically successful and yet environmentally & socially conscious (actually set benchmarks in all categories)
            It isn’t that the current administration isn’t so much pro amazon, as they they are just anti-Apple.

        2. AG and DOH staff are all rotating to the lobbying and back to government. And this case specifically has nothing to do with Obama; he could not care less about those details.

          1. Oh please open your eyes, this is a huge highly visible case. You are a fool to think this isn’t deliberate and planned (particularly considering how shaky the DOJ’s case really is)

            This isn’t about “evil business”, but that is the way the administration is trying to paint it.

            Wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late.

            1. I did not say it is a small case, I said Obama does not care about it as it is irrelevant to him. He just allows lobbyists to do their work, as he always does.

    2. So true. Just a money grab. Apple has lots of money, the government wants to grab some of it (even though they didn’t earn it, Apple did.) The hearings into Apple’s offshore accounts are more of the same.

      1. Are you sure he’ll last 1316 days?

        Oh, wait: First Black President. So, the media will do anything to protect the empty-suited, corrupt, lying, perpetually golfing failure, including the decades of revisionist history writing that are sure to come.

        1. Being superior and all, I thought you’d have known that potus pretzel set the record for vacation days. Even FDR who was in office for twelve years took fewer vacation days than W.

          By the way, since you don’t believe in free education, where do I send the bill?

    1. FT – You expect a Republican candidate who isn’t a pathological liar who flaunts the law for the benefit of the wealthy and parasitic?

      Why? The kindest comment I can make is that you are profoundly naive.

      A plague on both their ‘parties’.

  2. How does Eric Holder still have a job? I’ve come to the conclusion that he might have the only surviving copy of the infamous Michelle Obama “whitey” tape.

    Barack Obama: Eric, uhh, I’m afraid that that’s the last straw. Try as I might to justify keeping you on board, we’ve come to a crossroad for the last time. It’s, uhh, with great regret that I’m afraid I’ll have to, uhh, request that you r—

    Eric Holder: *loudly taps a solid object creating a rectangular impression along the top right corner of his blazer*

    Barack Obama: Uhh, on second thought, Eric.. *crooning* Let’s stay togetherrrr..

    1. Probably for a pretty long time seeing as how the original comment doesn’t seem to have been deleted either.

      We don’t call you knee-jerkers for nothing.

      Are you going to apologize to MDN?. Oh, silly me, Libs don’t apologize, they just blame others for their mistakes and failures.

      1. As you may be able to see, I was in the process of apologizing to MDN while your knee was jerking.

        Oh, silly me, Faux conservatives don’t apologize, they just rewrite history to eliminate their mistakes and failures. 😆

      1. Yeah, it “came back.”

        Too bad there was no such luck for J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods.

        Hey, where were your AWOL “president” and his ditzy “secretary of state” the night Christopher Stevens was killed and his body dragged through the streets of Benghazi by terrorist scum?

        Getting a good night of sleep ahead of an early tee time? Or something even worse, perhaps?

        1. You poor, deluded soul. To be filled with such vitriol must be draining to your psyche.

          I should have known better than to engage in banter with you. My apologies to the other readers.

          1. No vitriol, just unanswered questions:

            Where were your AWOL “president” and his ditzy “secretary of state” the night Christopher Stevens was killed and his body dragged through the streets of Benghazi by terrorist scum?

            Getting a good night of sleep ahead of an early tee time? Or something even worse, perhaps?

            Don’t engage in “banter” with me if you can’t handle it.

            1. Wait… So YOU are admitting big government nanny state is a fraud and complete utter failure and sending any more tax money to big government for services they flaunt but never provide because it is just a way for lying politicians to get elected and live off your dime is because it is just all for show?! So I guess you are on board with repealing Obamacare, stop wasting taxpayer dollars, stop deficit spending, joining your local TEA Party and abolishing the IRS! Congratulations, welcome aboard!

            2. Dream on home skool.

              No weapons of mass destruction.
              Banks repaid their loans.
              No inflation.
              No deflation.
              Dow is at 1500.
              Lost the election.
              Lost the next election.
              According to Forbes, Obamacare is hitting the exchanges and costs less than all of your inbred estimates.

              Remind me what you losers got right.

            3. Dream on NO SCHOOL

              Here’s a song to the tune of ‘OHIO’ by Neil Young dedicated to the loser in the White House!

              It’s called “Benghazi”

              ‘Faux Leader, Obama’s snorin’
              Diplomat left, can’t believe.
              This Summer al-Qaeda’s scorin’
              Four dead in Benghazi.

              A movie is to blame,
              Elections are coming around.
              Obama’s plain dumb long ago
              Mitt debates the truth
              Ambassador dead on the ground
              How can you fundraise with what you know?!

              La la la la la la la la
              La la la la la la la
              La la la la la la la la
              La la la la la la la.

              Hillary’s a clown too
              Crazy film maker’s to blame
              She should have been jailed long ago
              Her 3 am call came
              Phone just rang and it rang
              Run in 2016 with what you know!

              Faux Leader, Obama’s snorin’
              Diplomat left, can’t believe.
              This Summer al-Qaeda’s scorin’
              Four dead in Benghazi.

              Four dead in Benghazi.
              Four dead in Benghazi.
              Four dead in Benghazi.
              Four dead in Benghazi..

              With all these scandals from this corrupt administration’s big government philosophy, I’m busy with more songs…

  3. Yes! It’s official: Sarah Palin is rejoining Fox News!

    Palin will make her latest debut on the morning show “Fox & Friends,” on Monday. In addition to providing political insight and commentary, Palin will contribute to Fox Business Network.

    “The power of Fox News is unparalleled,” Palin said. “The role of Fox News in the important debates in our world is indispensable. I am pleased and proud to be rejoining Roger Ailes and the great people at Fox.”


    (big $$$ contract, I hear)

        1. So do you mean Palin’s IQ is less than the others at Fox? Or mayhaps you take umbrage at the intimation that the mean IQ at Fox is somewhat less than Palin’s? Which is it, oh Exalted One, né ‘First 2010, Then 2012’?

      1. There is no way the brain-dead can wake the brain-dead. Pull all the plugs. Interesting how you can tell a person’s politics by how repulsive he sounds. Responsible parents don’t let their kids watch Fox News. Morons force them to.

    1. Cool. Despite some frothing at the mouth rabid liberal Palin haters around here, I find her actually fun to listen to. She often makes good points without being trashy.

  4. Laurene Powell-Jobs should just spit in Obama’s face. What a friggin hypocrite- to parade her around at his speech’s, take advantage of photo-ops with Jobs, and use Apple as a shining example of innovation in America, only to turn around try to hang Apple out to dry….. Classy. This guy needs to go.

  5. Why doesn’t the DoJ discuss how Amazon engaged in “predatory pricing”. A practice of keeping prices “artificially low”… designed to undercut competitors and discourage others from entering the field.

    And if that weren’t bad enough, Amazon has now gotten into the publishing biz… competing with the very clients whose products they distribute.

    Now how F’d up is that?

  6. Apple has not been paying up to big gov so they are shaking them down. Wait till the case is settled. If it is minimal, then Apple is playing the big gov game. If not they are fighting the big gov. Pretty simple. Apple has been doing there thing without paying off the powers that be.

  7. And so far the DOJ are losing at every turn. Apple has kicked there butts. Apple hasn’t done anything wrong and the proof is showing everywhere with every testimony that comes out. Waste of the government and Apple’s money in the court system.

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