Apple hit with U.S. injunction in e-books antitrust case

NEW YORK Sat Sep 7, 2013 4:24am IST

A worker climbs outside an Apple store in Hong Kong April 10, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/Files

A worker climbs outside an Apple store in Hong Kong April 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip/Files

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge who found Apple Inc (AAPL.O) conspired to fix e-book prices imposed new restrictions on the iPad maker on Friday, limiting its agreements with publishers.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in New York also said she would appoint an external monitor to review Apple's antitrust compliance policies, procedures and training for two years.

The injunction was narrower than the U.S. Justice Department had sought, in line with Cote's statement last week that she wanted it "to rest as lightly as possible on how Apple runs its business."

The department had sought a broader injunction that could have affected Apple's agreements with suppliers of movies, music and TV shows.

Cote ruled on July 10 that Apple was liable for conspiring with five publishers to raise e-book prices above those established by the dominant retailer in the market, Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).

The five publishers, all of which have settled with regulators, include Lagardere SCA's (LAGA.PA) Hachette Book Group Inc, News Corp's (NWSA.O) HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Penguin Random House LLC, CBS Corp's (CBS.N) Simon & Schuster Inc and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH's Macmillan.

The terms of Friday's judgment will expire after five years, but Cote's order allows for extensions in one-year increments if necessary.

The Justice Department welcomed the injunction.

"Consumers will continue to benefit from lower e-book prices as a result of the department's enforcement action to restore competition in this important industry," Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer said in a statement.

Apple said it would appeal the injunction.

"Apple did not conspire to fix e-book pricing," said company spokesman Tom Neumayr. "The iBookstore gave customers more choice and injected much-needed innovation and competition into the market."

Apple's shares rose 0.6 percent to $498.22 on Friday.

It faces a separate trial on damages demanded by states that are pursuing related claims.

The case is U.S. v. Apple Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-02826. (Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Eddie Evans and Ken Wills)

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