A New York judge has ruled that Apple conspired with major publishers to raise electronic book prices higher than they otherwise should have been.
Federal Court Judge Denise Cote rejected the argument presented by Apple's lawyer Orin Snyder that a guilty verdict would set a "dangerous precedent." The judge concluded the company had indeed conspired with a half-dozen book publishers when it got into the e-book market in 2010.
Among the accusations brought forth by the Department of Justice were that Apple's behaviour directly led to the end of Amazon.com's policy of selling e-books for $9.99.
"Apple did not want to compete with Amazon (or any other e-book retailer) on price," the ruling reads. "And the publisher defendants wanted to end Amazon’s $9.99 pricing and increase significantly the prevailing price point for e-books."
"With a full appreciation of each other’s interests, Apple and the publisher defendants agreed to work together to eliminate retail price competition in the e-book market and raise the price of e-books above $9.99," the judge wrote.
In a statement, Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said "Apple did not conspire to fix e-book pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations," he said. "We've done nothing wrong."
Neumayr added that the company brought much-needed innovation and competition to the e-book space when it starting selling them three years ago.
Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer called the ruling "a victory for millions of consumers who choose to read books electronically."
The case was filed last year against Apple and major book publishers, five of which have already settled with the government out of court.
The court will now decide on damages, but Apple is likely to appeal regardless.