Court Rejects Apple’s Appeal of Ebook Price-Fixing Ruling

Apple ebook antitrust price-fixing Denise CoteThe U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals today upholds the 2013 ruling of Judge Denise Cote that found Apple guilty of conspiring with leading trade publishers to fix the price of ebooks, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

The two-to-one decision requires Apple to begin issuing settlement payouts to customers, a sum that’s been estimated at upwards of $400 million.

A dissenting opinion, written by Judge Dennis Jacobs, argues that Apple operated within the bounds of the law in a way that favored competition in the ebook market.

“Apple was a major potential competitor in a market dominated by a 90 percent monopoly,” Jacobs writes, “and was justifiably unwilling to enter a market on terms that would assure a loss on sales or exact a toll on its reputation.”

That view, and the legal reasoning it’s couched in—which Publishers Lunch examines in-depth—opens the door for Apple to appeal today’s ruling to the Supreme Court.

For the time being, though, Judge Cote’s earlier ruling carries the day, with the appeals court finding her judgment of Apple’s liability “amply supported and well-reasoned.”


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