Apple may get hit with e-book price fixing lawsuit today

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Department of Justice is expected to file an anti-trust lawsuit against Apple today, citing concerns of e-book price fixing.

According to Reuters, talks with federal regulators have come to nothing. Along with Apple itself, five publishers are believed to be under investigation: HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster.

The Justice Department's been concerned about changes to the e-book pricing model since the release of Apple's iPad two years ago.

Previously, publishers tended to sell to retailers at a fixed price, with retailers setting their own retail price. But after a dispute with Amazon, which tried to insist on keeping prices below $9.99, there was a shift to an agency model.

This saw Apple allowing publishers to set their own prices, but taking a cut itself.

Last year, a lawsuit was filed against Apple and the publishers, claiming that consumers were being forced to pay higher prices as a result of the new model.

According to Reuters, several of the publishers are expected to settle, meaning they may escape a DoJ lawsuit - Apple, though, is believed to be planning to fight.

The Department reportedly wants to see a return to the wholesale model, as well as a scrapping of so-called 'most-favored nation' contract clauses in which booksellers guarantee to give Apple their lowest prices.