In a major blow to the electronics giant Apple, a U.S. judge ruled on Wednesday that the company conspired with major U.S. publishers to illegally raise the price of electronic books.
The verdict by Judge Denise Cote of the US District Court in Manhattan sets the stage for a multi-million dollar trial for damages against Apple.
The case was brought by the US Department of Justice, which alleged that the company's late chief executive, Steve Jobs, reached agreements with five of the top six US publishers before Apple introduced the iPad in 2010 in order to sabotage Amazon.
At the time, Amazon dominated the e-book market, selling many titles for 9.99 dollars.
Though the publishers settled the case, Apple denied wrongdoing and said it would appeal against the verdict, which found that the company had played the central role in the price-fixing.
Without Apple's orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the spring of 2010, Cote ruled.
"Through their conspiracy they forced Amazon (and other resellers) to relinquish retail pricing authority and then they raised retail e-book prices," Cote added. "Those higher prices were not the result of regular market forces but of a scheme in which Apple was a full participant."
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