Associated Press's Larry Neumesiter reports that, in her written ruling, District Court Judge Cote cited Steve Jobs's statements, one that was video'd in answer to Walt Mossberg of WSJ at the initial iPad launch event ("the prices will be the same"), and one that was made to biographer Walter Isaacson about what Steve Jobs had told the large publishers named in the lawsuit ("the customer pays a little more, but that's what you want anyway").
The argument for dismissing the class action lawsuit was that Apple and the publishers named were just improving the efficiencies of distribution, but the judge rejected that, saying,
"It has everything to do with coordinating a horizontal agreement among publishers to raise prices, and eliminating horizontal price competition among Apple's competitors at the retail level."
AP's Neumeister adds that Apple had said last year that the charge that it had conspired with the major book publishers to raise the prices of e-books was not true and that it had instead (as Neumeister's explains their position) 'fostered innovation and competition by introducing its iBookstore in 2010 and said customers had benefited from e-books that are more interactive and engaging.'
Neumeister's AP report states that
'The judge wrote that Apple had a "strong incentive" to encourage publishers to agree together on the rules for e-book sales so that its iBookstore did not face stiff competition' and that 'With the fortuitous entry of Apple into the market for e-books, and the decision by Apple to join the price-fixing conspiracy, that horizontal conspiracy became a potent weapon for engineering a fundamental shift in an entire industry," the judge said.'
The ruling means that the class action can proceed to trial.
The Department of Justice settlements
As we saw earlier, the U.S. Department of Justice had reached a settlement with Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. The AP report on the district court judge's ruling says that the federal government is proceeding with its 'lawsuit against Apple and Holtzbrinck Publishers, doing business as Macmillan, and The Penguin Publishing Co. Ltd., doing business as Penguin Group.' The settlement reached with the other 3 publishers is expected to help them avoid the class action lawsuit.
WSJ article on Judge Cote's ruling
The Wall Street Journal's "Cheat Sheet" article by Saul Griffith today described the ruling as a "damning indictment of collusive practices between Apple and five major U.S. book publishers," and Griffith quotes the judge further:
"In short, Apple did not try to earn money off of eBooks by competing with other retailers in an open market; rather, Apple 'accomplished this goal by [helping] the suppliers to collude, rather than to compete independently.' "WSJ's Griffith adds, in his article titled, "Outlook Turns Gloomy as Judge Slams Apple in E-Book Case" ['Gloomy' was changed from 'not good'] :
' The proceedings probably ignored Apple's more substantive (and hidden) agenda – to thwart the growing popularity of Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle tablet by depriving the company of the opportunity to sell low-priced e-book content through the legacy ‘wholesale’ book selling model it created and dominated, controlling over 90 percent of e-book sales before Apple jumped into the game. '
Apple Insider's Mikey Campbell quotes Steve Perman, lead counsel and managing partner of Hagens Berman, the law firm handling the class action suit:
"We thought that Judge Cote’s ruling was spot on, especially when she noted that we’ve gone above and beyond in illustrating the legitimacy of our case ... We are eager to push forward with the case.”
The 56-page ruling in PDF format, available for download
Marketwatch points us to the 56-page ruling, available as part of a set of documents at hbsslaw.com.
Simple Timeline of events upon which the lawsuits are based
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