The US Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit against Apple and five book publishers over allegedly artificially inflating ebook pricing.
Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster are the publishers named in the suit, which was filed in New York. Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster are reportedly hoping to settle the case as early as today, while both Macmillan and Apple have denied any wrongdoing.
The price-fixing antitrust suit pivots on a switch from a wholesale pricing model, which allows outlets to set the prices of ebooks, to an agency pricing model which saw publishers setting prices for ebooks, which came about when Apple released the first iPad.
According to the complaint filed, “Apple facilitated the publisher defendants’ collective effort to end retail price competition by coordinating their transition to an agency model across all retailers.” Amazon was reportedly coerced into adopting the agency model recently, following apparent pressure from publishers.