DOJ Sets Out to ‘Punish’ Apple

DOJ Sets Out to 'Punish' AppleOn Friday, the United States Department of Justice announced a series of carefully-considered recommendations with regard to how Apple should be punished as a consequence of the company’s participation in an ebook price fixing scheme.

“The court found that Apple’s illegal conduct deprived consumers of the benefits of e-book price competition and forced them to pay substantially higher prices,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “Under the department’s proposed order, Apple’s illegal conduct will cease and Apple and its senior executives will be prevented from conspiring to thwart competition in the future.”

According to one of the provisions, the DOJ wants Apple to stop preventing rivals like Amazon and Barnes & Noble from linking to outside ebook stores from inside of their native iOS apps.

Per the proposed settlement terms, Apple would be compelled to allow those links for at least two years.

The department’s proposal will also require Apple to terminate its existing agreements with the five major publishers with which it conspired – Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, which does business as Macmillan, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster Inc. – and to refrain (for five years) from entering new e-book distribution contracts which would restrain Apple from competing on price.

The DOJ also wants occasion audit to confirm Apple remains in compliance with the “new rules.”

The Department of Justice is asking the court to appoint an external monitor to ensure that Apple’s internal antitrust compliance policies are sufficient to catch anticompetitive activities before they result in harm to consumers.

The DOJ’s trial against Apple, which began on June 3, lasted for three weeks, and ended with the court determining that Apple violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Next Friday, August 9th, the court will hold a hearing on remedies.