Wed April 11, 2012

Colorado Joins e-Book Price Fixing Lawsuit

Colorado is joining a multi-state lawsuit against Apple and four electronic book publishers. It alleges that the entities engaged in price fixing and other anticompetitive practices in the market.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Attorneys General from 15 states, including Colorado, and Puerto Rico, following a two-year investigation.

It says that electronic book publishers and Apple relied on contract terms that forced e-book outlets to sell their products at the same price – which may have translated into artificially inflated prices for customers.

“This is, in essence, price fixing,” says Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. “And we believe that since that occurred, e-book purchasers have paid $100 million more than they would have but for this price-fixing conspiracy.”

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop anti-competitive conduct, as well as damages for e-book customers who may have paid higher prices. If the lawsuit succeeds, the state will try to get a list of customers to see who is entitled to restitution -- which Suthers says will likely take the form of discounts on future purchases.