Apple Accused of Price Fixing

Justice Department case centers around collusion with 5 major publishing houses

The Justice Department is accusing Apple of leading an e-book price-fixing ring, Reuters reported, citing documents filed in federal court on Tuesday.

Apple is accused of colluding with five major publishing houses—Penguin, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette—to force Amazon to raise its ebook prices. The publishing houses have all agreed to settle, but Apple will go to trial June 3.

The New York Times quoted Steve Jobs as saying, in an email to James Murdoch of NewsCorp., "Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream e-books market at $12.99 and $14.99."

The Justice Department first brought the allegations against Apple in an April 2012 antitrust lawsuit. Prosecutors are now saying that Apple was the ringleader of the conspiracy, using the Steve Jobs email as evidence.

For its part, Apple vehemently denies accusations of price fixing, claiming it brought competition to a digital market dominated by Amazon. “The evidence proves that Apple acted independently, to further its own legitimate business goals,” the company said in an 81-page court filing.