Another day, another lawsuit. Finkelstein Thompson LLP (www.finkelsteinthompson.com) has filed a class action complaint against Apple, Inc. and six major book publishers, alleging a horizontal conspiracy to fix and increase the price of eBooks in the United States.
These allegations, if proved, may entitle purchasers of eBooks to monetary damages. The publishers include Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers Inc., Macmillan Publishers, Inc., Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Random House, Inc., and Simon & Schuster, Inc. The action is currently pending before Judge George B. Daniels of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Finkelstein Thompson has also moved the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all similar class actions filed in other courts before Judge Daniels.
The complaint alleges that six of the defendants implemented price-fixing agreements contemporaneously with Apple’s introduction of the iPad in April, 2010.
Defendants allegedly did so by coordinating the introduction of an “agency” model for eBooks sales, where the publishers are the direct sellers of the eBooks and dictate the price at which online retailers, such as Amazon.com, can sell the eBooks as agents for the publishers. The book publishers and Apple allegedly agreed among themselves to simultaneously raise the price of eBooks, often from US$9.99 to $12.99 or higher. The remaining defendant — Random House, Inc. –implemented a similar price increase in February 2011.
Finkelstein Thompson seeks to represent a nationwide class of persons that purchased the defendants’ eBooks at a price above $9.99 after April 1, 2010. The complaint also asserts claims on behalf of California and Maryland residents under each state’s antitrust laws.
A similar suit was announced on Aug. 9. Hagens Berman, a consumer rights class-action law firm, filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit claiming that Apple and five of the nation’s top publishers — including HarperCollins Publishers ( a subsidiary of News Corp.) Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group (a subsidiary of Pearson PLC), and Simon & Schuster (a subsidiary of CBS) — illegally fix prices of electronic books.
— Dennis Sellers