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Apple Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Overturn Guilty Verdict in E-Books Antitrust Case

ibooks-iconApple is asking the United States Supreme Court to overturn the 2013 U.S. Appellate Court ruling that found the company guilty of conspiring with publishers to inflate the prices of e-books, reports Reuters.

Apple's petition comes following the loss of a June appeal where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the guilty verdict and maintained Apple violated antitrust laws and colluded with five publishers - HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, and Penguin - to fix e-book prices and unreasonably restrain trade.
Apple in its petition said the June decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York contradicted Supreme Court precedent and would "chill innovation and risktaking."

"The Second Circuit's decision will harm competition and the national economy," Apple wrote.
Should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold the lower court's verdict, Apple will be forced to pay $450 million as part of a settlement with class action lawyers and state district attorneys, with $400 million of that amount earmarked for consumers. Apple reached the settlement in June of 2014 to avoid a lengthy damages trial, but the payout hinged on the outcome of the company's appeal.

Though Apple was found guilty, the company has maintained its innocence throughout the dispute. In its appeal, Apple said its efforts "kick-started competition" to deliver "higher output, lower price levels, and accelerated innovation."



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15 months ago

If I get charged with running a red light, can I revisit the case and ask that my conviction be overturned?


actually... yes.
Rating: 12 Votes
15 months ago


You lost Apple, deal with it.

That's what they're doing: they're appealing.
Rating: 11 Votes
15 months ago
I never understood how apple got into trouble but Amazon got away with it screwing publishers and ultimately strangling the market..
Rating: 8 Votes
15 months ago

How exactly did Amazon screw the publishers?


Amazon has been accused in the past of a few things. From Predatory pricing in order to drive other business out of the market to essentially holding publishers "hostage" by refusing to sell their materials without agreeing to their heavily Amazon sided contracts, abusing their near digital monopoly on e-book sales.
Rating: 7 Votes
15 months ago

How exactly did Amazon screw the publishers?

Price? They are so big they can demand any price and publishers had little choice.. Isn't it?. Much like the British supermarkets doing to the milk producers in U.K. ..
Rating: 6 Votes
15 months ago

I never understood how apple got into trouble but Amazon got away with it screwing publishers and ultimately strangling the market..


I agree.

not that I want Apple to "get away" with it and to win their appeal

But Amazon needs to be held to the same legal standards.
Rating: 5 Votes
15 months ago

Repeating that 'this was the finding of conspiracy' doesn't make it any truer.

The fact is, there was no evidence that Apple had conspired to a mass agreement with the publishers. What you are quoting is circumstantial evidence. There is no hard evidence of meetings or communication that took place between two or more publishers and Apple. As such, Apple have reasonable grounds for appeal.


There are multiple problems with what you are saying.

1. You used the word "no finding." Those words have specific legal meaning: they mean that the trier of fact (in this case, the district judge) made a finding about the facts of the case. The district judge absolutely found (as quoted above) that Apple engaged in, facilitated, and in fact enforced such an agreement. It is simply wrong to say that there was no finding. When I repeated "this was the finding of conspiracy" I meant that in the strictest legal sense. The district judge made a factual finding that Apple had engaged in a conspiracy.

That is a fact. It's not an opinion. You can disagree with it, but anyone who knows remotely anything will understand that your disagreement demonstrates that you don't know anything about US law.

2. You completely misunderstand the appeals process, and the basis of Apple's appeal. At least in the United States, it is extremely rare to win an appeal on the grounds that the trier of fact got the facts wrong. Grounds to appeal to the Supreme Court are even more stringent. SCOTUS takes cases because (1) There is a split among circuits, or (2) The legal question raised by the case is an issue of national importance.

Apple's petition for cert doesn't even say that the district court got the facts wrong. They don't mention it because they know it's a loser. If you write a cert petition saying, "The district court was wrong about the facts" a clerk will write a two-page pool memo saying that you request factbound error correction, which is an automatic deny.

SCOTUS is not set up to try facts or revisit factual findings by the district court. Disagreeing with the district judge's factual findings are not reasonable grounds for appeal to SCOTUS.

3. You act as if circumstantial evidence is insufficient. No US court has ever found this to be the case. The rule is instead: Was there evidence to support the trier of fact's verdict? If there is, it won't be questioned. And civil cases have a lower standard than criminal cases.

You may not like this fact, but "the evidence was only circumstantial" is not grounds for appeal if it is otherwise sufficient.

(And circumstantial evidence is quite often better than eye witness testimony, which is notoriously unreliable and probably responsible for the greatest travesties of justice).

4. You're simply wrong. The passage quoted clearly states that Eddy Cue communicated information from one publisher to another about the terms of the agreement, and communicated the fact of agreement to publishers in succession. There is no requirement anywhere in the law that they have to sit in the same room and chuckle evilly. If you read the entire district court opinion, you can also find evidence that Jobs contacted Murdoch of Harper Collins and specifically told him what other publishers had done. You can communicate by passing information through an intermediary, and Eddy Cue admitted at trial that he in fact acted as an intermediary. There are emails from Jobs to Murdoch that specifically show him conveying information about the other publishers.

If what you are saying is, "I don't see an email in which Jobs ccs two publishers at the same time," you are correct, but this is irrelevant. It's like saying, "Yes, I hired a contract killer, but I asked my secretary to send the email, so it doesn't count." The law doesn't care how the communication is facilitated. The question is: Did it happen? And Apple undoubtedly communicated information about one publisher's negotiations to another.

Antitrust liability has been found on much, much weaker grounds.

You don't have to believe me, and you probably won't. But ask yourself this: Have you read the district court's opinions? Have you read the DOJ briefs and accompanying exhibits? And if you haven't actually examined the evidence in detail, how on earth are you qualified to say what is and is not contained in the evidence?
Rating: 4 Votes
15 months ago

Amazon has been accused in the past of a few things. From Predatory pricing in order to drive other business out of the market to essentially holding publishers "hostage" by refusing to sell their materials without agreeing to their heavily Amazon sided contracts, abusing their near digital monopoly on e-book sales.

That has been the prevailing theory on MR. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't the truth closer to this:
[LIST=1]
* Publisher's wanted to set the price of books b/c they felt Amazon devalued some of their products by selling them at $9.99. "Some of" is key here. The vast majority of the books were not sold below cost.
* Publisher's were paid their full price for the books ($12 I think). They weren't losing money.
* Contracts with Amazon now allow the publishers to set their price if they choose to do so. Amazon's preferred pricing on best sellers is still $9.99. If publisher chooses to price higher, right below that price there's a notification that says "Price set by publisher"
* Contract also provides incentive for publishers to keep pricing lower: Amazon gives publisher better pricing and publisher gives Amazon cooperative funding to market their books.
* I'm borrowing this from an older quote: "When has it ever been said publishers don't make enough money? The smaller independent houses may have an argument but the larger houses not so much. It was these larger houses that dealt with Apple. In the last complete year,2013, the top 5 publishers had revenues of $9 billion and profits of $1 billion. From a low point in 2009, when the economy was worse, their profit margin ran from 8.1% to 9.7%, 9.6%, 10.8%, and finally 10.9% in 2013. In case you're wondering, their profit margins land them right around the mid point of companies in the media category." I know you didn't claim poverty for publishers, but this goes to them being screwed.
Rating: 4 Votes
15 months ago
I've never understood how Apple was found guilty for this when the same ebook was the same price in the Google Play Book store.
Rating: 4 Votes
15 months ago
Here comes all the arm-chair lawyers with their input! :rolleyes:
Rating: 3 Votes

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