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Apple May Have Caught Another Break In E-Book Pricing Scandal (AAPL)

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Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) seems to have caught another break in its ongoing battle with the Justice Department.

According to Bloomberg, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said that she plans to limit the Justice Department's measures for ensuring Apple will not institute another e-book pricing scheme.

If the measures were approved as is, Apple would be required to terminate its existing agreements with the five publishers that it was accused of conspiring with: Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster. Apple would also be forced to refrain from signing new e-book distribution contracts for five years. This would prevent the company from competing on price, the Justice Department argued.

These are just a few of the requirements that the department hoped to employ. The full list is quite extensive.

Bloomberg quoted the judge as saying that she would limit those remedies to ensure that they "rest as lightly as possible" on Apple's business.

That remark seems to be a bit of a contradiction to her ruling. In July, Judge Cote ruled that Apple did conspire with the aforementioned publishers to fix e-book prices.

Related: iPhone 5S, Low-Cost iPhone Could Arrive In China By November 28

Per Judge Cote's ruling, Apple will be required to abandon agency pricing agreements for two years -- three less than what the Justice Department had requested.

Apple plans to appeal, but this may not be the only e-book case that arises. The company is also at risk from angry consumers who are bitter over the fact that they may have paid a few bucks more for a digital copy of a new book.

While this legal battle has presented Apple with new challenges, it pales in comparison to the ongoing patent dispute with Samsung (OTC: SSNLF). The two firms have spent the last couple of years in court, resulting in a $1 billion windfall for Apple that was eventually reduced.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

Posted-In: Apple Bloomberg Denise Cote Hachette Book Group HarperCollinsNews Legal Tech Best of Benzinga

 

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