Apple preparing DoJ court battle over e-book fixing: report

Apple is reportedly preparing to take allegations of e-book price fixing to the Department of Justice.

Apple will take the allegations that it 'fixed' e-book prices in a bid to undermine Amazon's business to court, reports Bloomberg, citing sources famililar with the matter.

The two other publishers are thought to be Macmillan and Pearson's Penguin Group, who earlier this week were reportedly "reluctant" to settle the case before an antitrust investigation begins.

The case is being taken further as publishers attempt to defend the 'agency' model -- which allows the publisher rather than vendor to set e-book prices. This, in turn, gives publishers control over pricing and consumer discounts.

The Justice Department will be investigating whether the Cupertino-based company conspired with publishers to control pricing structures and limit competition within the e-book market.

According to Bloomberg's sources, the government wishes to establish a settlement that would allow competing retailers, such as Amazon, to revert to a wholesale model. In comparison to an agency model, wholesale structures ensure retailers retain control over the price of goods that consumers are required to pay.

CBS-owned Simon & Schuster (ZDNet is also owned by CBS), Hachette Book Group, and HarperCollins are attempting to avoid a potentially expensive and lengthy legal battle, and may be willing to reach an agreement by next week.

It is possible that a settlement would void certain clauses in the contracts that Apple issues book sellers; such as the clause that requires participants to provide the company with the lowest prices offered to competitors.

Apple was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

Image credit: ZDNet

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