DOJ Steps Up Antitrust Case Against Apple

The United States Department of Justice is really putting the squeeze on Apple.

The DOJ, as we know, alleges that Apple engaged in a horizontal price-fixing scheme with regard to eBook prices. But new documents filed by the DOJ reveal that Apple may have played a much bigger role than anyone realized in the conspiracy with publishers to violate antitrust laws and “strip retailers of pricing authority.”

The department’s Antitrust Division filed papers for a trial set to begin June 3 in federal court in Manhattan that included excerpts of e-mails and depositions of Apple executives including the company’s late founder, Steve Jobs, and Senior Vice President Eddy Cue and publishing executives.

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. cited evidence in its case such as an email sent by late Apple CEO Steve Jobs to James Murdoch of News Corp. In the undated email, Jobs writes: “Apple’s iTunes Store and App Store have over 120 million customers with credit cards on file and have downloaded over 12 billion products… This is the type of online assets that will be required to scale the e-book business into something that matters to the publishers.”

“Apple did not conspire to fix eBook pricing,” Tom Neumayr, a spokesman for Apple, said today. “We helped transform the eBook market with the introduction of the iBookstore in 2010 bringing consumers an expanded selection of eBooks and delivering innovative new features. The market has been thriving and innovating since Apple’s entry and we look forward to going to trial to defend ourselves.”

The U.S. first brought suit against Apple and leading industry publishers in 2012.