Case Law book
The judge who found that Apple illegally conspired with e-book publishers made the right call, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The ruling is another victory for the Justice Department, whose charges that Apple was the “ringmaster” in an illegal pricing scheme were vigorously challenged by the company, which refused to settle the case unlike the publishers with whom it allegedly colluded.
Apple contended that that U.S. District Judge Denise Cote’s 2013 ruling against Apple stretched antitrust law to penalize benign conduct. But the company failed to convince two out of three judges on a Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Manhattan.
“We conclude that the district court correctly decided that Apple orchestrated a conspiracy among the publishers to raise ebook prices, ” wrote Second Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston. The conspiracy, said the opinion, “unreasonably restrained trade” in violation of the Sherman Act, the federal antitrust law. She was joined by Judge Raymond Lohier. A third judge, Dennis Jacobs, wrote a dissenting opinion.
As WSJ’s Joe Palazzolo reports, the outcome follows three years of litigation, millions of dollars in legal fees and a bold decision by Apple to challenge the Justice Department to a trial.