Australia vs. Apple: Take two on e-book price fixing

Australia's consumer and competition watchdog is mulling a move to sue Apple, as it seeks complaints from e-book sellers in light of the U.S. Justice Dept.'s antitrust move.

The U.S. Department of Justice isn't the only body suing Apple over alleged e-book pricing. Another slap came when 16 state attorneys general filed a suit against the company and three publishers in a multi-state suit.

And now Australia wants in on the action. Take two, as it were, as it was not long ago the country's trade and competition regulator took a swipe at the iPhone and iPad maker.

The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), aside from having excellent alliteration skills, has asked local retailers and book sellers who are concerned about e-book pricing to file a complaint with its office, sister site CNET reports. This sort of action is often what leads to a full and formal investigation, and could result in Apple being sued --- again.

Less than a month ago, the ACCC complained that Apple "misled" iPad 3 buyers into buying the 4G-enabled shiny rectangle despite the tablet not being able to work on Australian 4G network Telstra.

Apple may have avoided further action by the ACCC by offering refunds to those who felt they had been swindled, but the case is still ongoing as the regulator considers its next move.

Only a few days later, it also took a swipe at Google for "misleading" consumers, in what appears to be in the midst of a extreme verb shortage.

The U.S. Justice Dept. began its formal antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five major international publishers yesterday, alleging that they conspired to fix --- and subsequently increased --- the price of e-books.

Macmillan, Penguin, Lagardere’s Hachette Livre, News Corp.-owned HarperCollins, and CBS-owned Simon & Schuster (ZDNet is also owned by CBS) are also being sued for their involvement with Apple’s e-book “cartel”.

While Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and HarperCollins settled their suits with the Justice Dept. lawyers, Penguin and Macmillan, along with Apple, want to take the case directly to court.

A case is still going through the European Commission, which was key in bringing the issue to light across the pond in the United States.

Image credit: David Carnoy/CNET.