Apple: We Don’t Call That Price Fixing
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) filed an official response to accusations that it colluded with book publishers to increase the cost of e-books sold through the iBookstore by saying that Steve Jobs’ widely reported quotes “will speak for themselves.” Documents in the case against Apple have included a previously redacted email from co-founder Steve Jobs apparently pushing for the agency model.
Apple also denied, once again, the allegations that it conspired to fix prices. Apple and two publishers — Macmillan and Penguin (NYSE:PSO) — are fighting both the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust claims as well as a class-action lawsuit against several state governments. Three other publishers — Simon & Schuster (NYSE:CBS), HarperCollins (NASDAQ:NWSA), and the Hachette Book Group — settled. Judge Denise Cote had denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case earlier this month.
Earlier, Apple had called the antitrust suit “fundamentally flawed.” On Tuesday, it categorically dismissed accusations from the class, which includes 31 states. The company’s statement responded to the complaint against it with a step-by-step breakdown of arguments. Apple admitted that it conducted bilateral negotiations with publishers, but denied there was any larger collusion and insisted that agreements did not prevent competing retailers to set their own e-book prices.
The response mentioned Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) several times. Apple said that “publicly and privately in their individual discussions with Apple, representatives of each of the publishers separately expressed varying degrees of unhappiness with Amazon’s tactics, including its prices,” but also denied that it using that knowledge as an incentive to use the agency model.
Jobs had apparently once told a reporter that, “Publishers are actually withholding their books from Amazon because they’re unhappy.” Apple said that this statement and another account in which Jobs said, “Amazon screwed it up,” and, “We pulled it off,” will speak for themselves.
Apple also denied that the adoption of an agency model brought about a radical change in pricing that had “existed for more than a hundred years.”