Apple has been found guilty of participating in a conspiracy to raise ebook prices and thwart competition.
The iBooks operator and iPad maker was being sued by the US Department of Justice over the decision to adopt the agency pricing model for eBooks.
Agency pricing sees publishers set the final retail price and pay the retailer a commission.
Many publishers adopted it in order to sell through Apple’s iBooks app and subsequently extended the model to other retailers including Amazon’s Kindle store.
The DOJ has accused Apple and big publishing houses Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon and Schuster and Penguin of colluding over the prices of e-books.
Each of the publishers had already settled with the DoJ, leaving Apple as the sole defendant.
In her ruling, Judge Denise Cote said: “The question in this case has always been a narrow one: whether Apple participated in a price-fixing scheme in violation of this country’s antitrust laws. Apple is liable here for facilitating and encouraging the Publisher Defendants’ collective, illegal restraint of trade.
“Through their conspiracy they forced Amazon (and other resellers) to relinquish retail pricing authority and then they raised retail e-book prices. Those higher prices were not the result of regular market forces but of a scheme in which Apple was a full participant.”
Any damages or restitution will be decided at a later date.