WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Apple Inc. Monday and left in place a ruling that the company conspired with publishers to raise electronic book prices when it sought to challenge Amazon.com’s dominance of the market.
The justices’ order on Monday lets stand an appeals court ruling that found Cupertino, California-based Apple violated antitrust laws in 2010.
Apple wanted to raise prices to wrest some book sales away from Amazon, which controlled 90 per cent of the market and sold most popular books online for $9.99. Amazon’s share of the market dropped to 60 per cent.
The 2-1 ruling by the New York-based appeals court sustained a trial judge’s finding that Apple orchestrated an illegal conspiracy to raise prices. A dissenting judge called Apple’s actions legal, “gloves-off competition.”
The Justice Department and 33 states and territories originally sued Apple and five publishers. The publishers all settled and signed consent decrees prohibiting them from restricting e-book retailers’ ability to set prices.
In settlements of lawsuits brought by individual states, Apple has agreed to pay $400 million to be distributed to consumers and $50 million for attorney fees and payments to states.
The case is Apple v. U.S., 15-565.