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Apple wants to go to trial in eBook price-fixing, no settlement planned

An Apple lawyer told Reuters today that the Cupertino, Calif.-based Company wants to go to trial over allegedly working with five other publishers to raise the prices of eBooks. A few analysts already said that Apple has a good chance of winning in court, which is most likely why Apple will not choose to settle and will instead fight it out. An Apple lawyer told Reuters: “Our basic view is that we would like the case to be decided on the merits. We believe that this is not an appropriate case against us and we would like to validate that.”

Three of the five accused eBook publishers already settled with the U.S. Department of Justice, but Macmillan and Penguin chose to also fight the Department of Justice. All five publishers are accused of meeting in a London hotel to discuss raising the price of eBooks.

Apple may have a strong case, because it did not participate in the meeting and it does not set the price of publishers’ eBooks. The civil antitrust suit alleged, however, that Apple’s move to let publishers set their own prices—and it is a requirement that publishers do not sell their digital books for cheaper elsewhere—forced consumers to pay millions more for eBooks than they should have.

Apple was also accused of setting a monopoly over the eBook market, but the company would like to think otherwise.

Apple’s Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD earlier in the week that Apple is breaking monopolies, not starting them:

The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true. The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.

Even if Apple does not win the case, the roughly $200 million fine is just a speed bump, especially considering the company has $100 billion in cash. It will be interesting to see what else comes out of this case. The next hearing is June 22.

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