Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has announced that a federal court has found Apple Inc. unlawfully conspired with major U.S. publishers to raise the prices of electronic books. The ruling came down from the U.S. District Court for the southern district of New York and said Apple's role in the price-fixing violated federal and state antitrust laws.

In a statement Schuette said "price-fixing abuses the good faith of consumers, and harms the pocketbooks of hard-working Michigan families. This should serve as a cautionary tale for any companies considering illegal price-fixing schemes at the expenses of customers."

The suit claimed that Apple conspired with five major publishers to artificially raise e-book prices. The court's order was issued after a three-week civil antitrust trial before U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote. The court found that Apple "played a central role in facilitating and executing" the conspiracy to raise E-book prices - and that "Apple's orchestration" of the conspiracy was necessary to its success. The trial did not address the issue of monetary damages, which will be the subject of a future proceeding.

Michigan had previously settled with five publishers for illegally conspiring to increase the retail price of e-books. The alleged collusion caused prices for e-book editions of New York Times Best Sellers to increase from $9.99 to $12.99 and $14.99. Consumers nationwide will receive $166 million in compensation as a result of that settlement.

If you purchased an e-book with an artificially inflated price from the five publishers, you should have already received a notice form your retailer. Consumers can file a complaint at: http://bit.ly/10jtom6.


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