A Seattle law firm is targeting Apple Inc. for an alleged e-book price-fixing lawsuit because of the company’s dominance in smartphone and tablet sales.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, a Seattle law firm, have filed a global class-action lawsuit indicting the conspiration of Apple with the five leading publishers to fix the prices of e-books. The publishers named in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, are HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster.
Steve Berman said that Apple’s strong market share in the smartphone and tablet industry gave it the right to drive up e-book prices across the industry, which includes opposing retailer Amazon.com. Apple was the catalyst to all of this.
The litigation accuses Apple, and the publishers working together to raise e-book prices because publishers now worried that Amazon.com’s low-cost pricing would eternally create customer expectations for lower prices, even for other e-reader devices. They plan to prove that Apple needed a way to counteract Amazon’s Kindle before its reputation could challenge the imminent introduction of the iPad.
Berman said that as early as 2010, e-book prices at Amazon.com regularly set to $9.99 or lower. Now, many best sellers are $12.99 and up.
One consumer advocate said the case has significance. John Simpson has long been worried about the alleged monopoly power that Apple Inc. is exercising through its Apps Store. He added that he believed the plaintiff in these class-action proceedings has an exceptionally strong case, and Bernan’s pleased to know that they brought the action.
The lawsuit charges the five publishing houses of obliging Amazon to drop its discount pricing and let them choose the prices. If Amazon attempted to sell e-books below the publisher prices, the publishers would renounce Amazon access to title. The five publishers manage 85% of the most fame fiction and nonfiction titles.
Berman said that Apple has no plans of entering the e-book market at the prices Amazon.com offered. As an alternative to competing with Amazon, Apple’s determined of ridding its competition through the anti-consumer scheme.
Berman said that anyone who bought an e-book ever since January 2010 could be a plaintiff in the class-action proceedings. Berman is not sure about how much is the total cost for consumers because of the alleged price fixing, but he assumes it cost around $3 per e-book sold since then.
The lawsuit seeks damages for buying the e-books, an injunction contrary to pricing e-books through publishers and a charge of the profits received by the defendants because of price fixing.