Apple denied e-books price fixing appeal to Supreme Court

Apple e-books pricing

Apple’s fight to push back against e-book price fixing claims may have finally come to an end.

Today, the Supreme Court declined to hear the company’s challenge to an appellant court decision that it had conspired with five publishers to increase e-books prices.

Apple had previously agreed to a $450 million settlement in the case.

The company has consistently denied it was involved in e-books price-fixing — arguing instead that its iBooks store offered customers “more choice and injected much-needed innovation and competition into the market.”

The company said its contract negotiations with publishers in 2009-2010 constituted “normal business practice.”

In July 2014 the company also agreed to pay $400 million in 33 US states after being charged with antitrust. The company, despite its agreement, has continued to fight those charges.

Attorneys’ fees and payments to states bumps the overall settlement figure to $450 million — which Apple faces having to pay now.

The Justice Department released a statement on Monday. “Apple’s liability for knowingly conspiring with book publishers to raise the prices of e-books is settled once and for all,” said Assistant Attorney General, Bill Baer, of its Antitrust Division.

“And consumers will be made whole.  The outstanding work of the Department of Justice team — working with our steadfast state attorney general partners — exposed this cynical misconduct by Apple and its book publisher co-conspirators and ensured that justice was done,” he added.

 The five publishers alleged by the Justice Department to have conspired with Apple to inflate e-book prices are Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan.

According to the Justice Department, $166 million has already been paid by the “conspiring publishers.”

Once Apple makes its payment the total paid will equal $566 million.

Apple shares are down 1% on the news.

Apple shares down

Most e-book purchasers will receive reimbursement for the higher prices via automatic credits at their e-book retailers.  “They will be able to apply these credits to future purchases,” the agency added.