Judge sets Apple e-book price fixing trial for 2013

Earlier this year, the United States Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five major book publishers for allegedly conspiring to raise e-book prices.

Three of the five publishers have decided to settle with the DoJ. But Apple, however, maintains its innocence. And it’ll get a chance to prove that in court, come next June…

Reuters reports:

Following a hearing in Manhattan federal court, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said a bench trial in the case will begin June 3, 2013, for Apple and two publishers who are fighting antitrust charges.”

The two book publishers that have decided to stay and fight alongside Apple are Macmillan and Penguin Group. The firms have also maintained their innocence, and have refused to engage in any kind of settlement talks.

HarperCollins Publishers, Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group, however, have all decided to forgo the risky trial, and are looking to submit a payoff proposal to the DoJ by the end of the summer.

Apple, and the two remaining book-makers, have until June of next year to build their case. And it’s going to be a tough one. The focus of the trial will be on Apple’s “agency” e-book pricing model, which in and of itself sounds pretty anti-competitive.

The model allows publishers to set e-book prices as high as $14.99 in the iBook Store, as long as they don’t offer them cheaper anywhere else. So once all of these publishers signed this deal with Apple, all of their e-books on sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble jumped from $10 to $15. Ouch.

Nevertheless, Apple appears to be ready to go to battle. And come next summer, this will certainly be an interesting one to watch.