The U.S. Department of Justice has accused Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), the Penguin Group (NYSE:PSO), and Macmillan of causing “unmistakable consumer harm” and has asked the court ruling in their e-book price fixing case to approve a settlement with three other publishers without delay.
The DOJ’s filing was in response to an objection raised by Apple and the two publishers, along with a friend of the court brief filed by the American Booksellers Association, The Authors Guild, and Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS), objecting to the settlement reached between the government and Hachette, HarperCollins (NASDAQ:NWSA), and Simon & Schuster (NYSE:CBS).
The department, having accused the iPhone maker and the five publishers of colluding to raise e-book prices, did not respond to the request from an independent attorney to release its internal e-book price analysis, which, attorney Bob Kohn says shows that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) also engaged in predatory pricing.
In direct response to Apple’s concern that the settlement forces the iPad maker to “tear up” contracts with the three publishers without party to the settlement, the DOJ said the tech company was not entitled “to preclude the United States and Apple’s co-defendants from obtaining the immediate benefits” of the settlements. “Apple’s desire to avoid price competition for as long as possible is the unstated reason why it seeks to undo or forestall the settlements,” the agency wrote.
The DOJ also told Judge Denise Cote there was little evidence to suggest that if the settlements are approved Amazon will return to a more dominant position in the e-book market.
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