DoJ antitrust news: Apple wants trial, states look to settle, and Canadian law firms get in on the act
April 18, 2012 | 11:57 pm
What does Apple say to the Department of Justice’s lawsuit? “We’ll see you in court.” Reuters reports that Apple has told a court that it wants the antitrust case to go to a full trial.
"Our basic view is that we would like the case to be decided on the merits," Apple lawyer, Daniel Floyd, told U.S. District Judge Denise Cote. "We believe that this is not an appropriate case against us and we would like to validate that."
The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for June 22. It’s pretty clear this is going to take a while.
Meanwhile, the court also heard that 15 states plus Puerto Rico are in settlement talks with the three publishers who did agree to settle, and it is possible that all 50 states and Puerto Rico might join the settlement. This could effectively render the ongoing consumer class action case moot, at least as far as those three publishers are concerned, as consumers would get their restitution through the state settlement rather than the class action. It could still proceed against Macmillan and Penguin, who along with Apple have elected to fight instead of settle.
And the Toronto Star reports (found via The Digital Reader) that the price-fixing controversy has spread to Canada, as several Canadian law firms have filed their own price-fixing suits against Apple and the Agency Five publishers. While the American DoJ suit is expected to lower all North American e-book prices in the long run, a lawyer from one of the firms explains Canadian action is also necessary to redress past purchases. .)
“I would expect that if there’s a change in business practices Canadians would benefit, but the case filed in the U.S. is on behalf of U.S. residents and seeks refunds to U.S. residents and so that would not do anything for Canadian consumers who have already made their purchases,” [London lawyer Charles Wright of Siskinds LLP] explained. “A Canadian action is necessary and desirable to get compensation for Canadian consumers.”
2012 is more and more looking like the opposite of a banner year for publishers, though whether it will lead to overall improvements for consumers is still unclear. A number of pundits think the DoJ may not have as strong a case as it thinks it does. If it fails to convince the courts, might even the settlements to which three publishers have agreed be undone?