The Supreme Court officially declined to hear Apple challenge to an appellate court decision that it conspired with five publishers to increase e-book prices, meaning it will have to pay $450 million as part of a settlement.
The Supreme’s decision not to hear the case leaves in place a June 2015 ruling by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found Apple liable for engaging in a conspiracy that violated federal antitrust laws.
Apple trotted out its usual line saying that it didn’t do anything, and even it it did it should be allowed to do what it liked otherwise “chill innovation and risk-taking.”
The 2nd Circuit’s ruling followed a 2013 decision by US District Judge Denise Cote that Apple played a “central role” in a conspiracy with publishers to raise e-book prices.
The Justice Department said the scheme caused some e-book prices to rise to $12.99 or $14.99 from the $9.99 price previously charged by market leader Amazon.com.
Bill Baer, head of the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division said that Apple’s liability for knowingly conspiring with book publishers to raise the prices of e-books is settled once and for all.
Publishers that the Justice Department said conspired with Apple include Lagardere, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan.
Apple and the publishers agreed on an arrangement in which Apple would get a 30 percent commission and publishers were allowed to set the prices for their books, a tactic known as “agency pricing” that prevents discounting.
The publishers also agreed they would charge all outlets the same amount, meaning Amazon was forced to raise its prices. E-books that had cost $9.99 suddenly cost $12.99 or $14.99.
Amazon said in a statement it was “ready to distribute the court-mandated settlement funds to Kindle customers as soon as it is told to do so.”