Unless a settlement is reached in the meantime, California-based Apple Inc. - now the world's most valuable company - will likely face a trial sometime next year regarding allegations of e-book price-fixing, a federal judge recently decided.
The lawsuit, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, and joined in by 15 states, alleges that Apple and various publishers were involved in various anticompetitive behavior, specifically, that they conspired to fix the prices of e-books. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, who is overseeing the consolidated antitrust litigation, set a trial date of June 3, 2013.
Recently, federal regulators have increase anticompetitive enforcement against industries they believe may be involved in price-fixing agreements - industries ranging from automotive parts to healthcare. Regulators are also looking more closely at Apple given their industry dominance of late. Officials are looking to see if Apple's music retail and digital publishing businesses may be inhibiting competition in these market areas.
While this particular lawsuit involves alleged violations of federal law and not California law, it is important to note that California law does provide various remedies for antitrust, deceptive or fraudulent business behavior. For example, California's Unfair Competition Act can not only be used for consumer protection, but also in disputes between companies and allegations of commercial fraud.
Whether you believe you have been a victim of deceptive business behavior, or someone has accused you of engaging in unfair business practices, an experienced business litigation attorney can help advise you of your rights and options.
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Apple E-Books Antitrust Case by U.S. Set for 2013 Trial," Patricia Hurtado, June 23, 2012