Utah joins e-book price fixing lawsuit

Published: Saturday, May 12 2012 10:13 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah joined an antitrust lawsuit Friday accusing publishers of fixing e-book prices and seeking damages for customers who allegedly paid these artificially high prices.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in New York, accuses Apple Inc., Penguin Group, Holtzbrinck Publishers and Macmillian Publishers of participating in a price-fixing scheme, a violation of  federal and state antitrust laws, a news release from the Utah Attorney General's Office Friday states. Utah joined 29 other states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia in the suit.

The suit claims the publishers artificially raised prices using a distribution model where the price for e-book bestsellers was set at $12.99 and $14.99. The alleged price-fixing scheme required all distributors to sell e-books at the same price, ending retail price competition. According to the news release, the price-fixing scheme cost e-book customers more than $100 million in overcharges.

Agreements have been reached with Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster, three publishers who have agreed to provide consumer restitution and ban price fixing. The suit seeks to stop the price-fixing scheme and seek damages for customers.

Hunter Schwarz

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