The Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and two major publishers over e-book price-fixing. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and specifically claims that Apple conspired with publishers to cease competitive pricing and increase overall e-book prices that would allow Cupertino to earn a 30 percent commission.
The deals, partially in an effort to combat Amazon's e-book pricing structure, were allegedly worked out during CEO-only meetings held at local Manhattan restaurants. The lawsuit claims that consumers have ultimately paid tens of millions of dollars more for e-books than they would otherwise have shelled out.
Reuters says that Pearson and Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, are also being taken to court over the matter. CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster Inc, HarperCollins Publishers Inc and Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group have all agreed to settle with the Justice Department although terms of the settlements have not been disclosed.
Chief executive for Macmillan John Sargent said that the settlement terms from the DOJ were "too onerous" and that his company did not act illegally. The remaining parties were not able to be reached for comment.
The Justice Department has been looking into the matter since the original iPad was launched in April 2010 with the suspicion that e-book prices were being artificially inflated.