Book ready to close on Apple ebook antitrust monitoring

The U.S. Justice Department said it’s satisfied that Apple has implemented reforms to comply with antitrust laws even though it fought with a monitor appointed to oversee its sale of electronic books, reports Bloomberg.

The government has recommended that the monitoring not be extended. In a letter to the Manhattan federal judge who found in 2013 that Apple illegally conspired with publishers to set e-book prices, the U.S. said Apple has “now implemented meaningful antitrust policies, procedures, and training programs that were obviously lacking at the time Apple participated in and facilitated the horizontal price-fixing conspiracy found by this court.”

The Justice Department said Apple “never embraced a cooperative working relationship with the monitor.” Apple acknowledged its relationship with the monitor was “rocky at times,” but disagreed that it wasn’t willing to cooperate.

Bloomberg reports that Apple said in Monday’s joint letter to U.S. District Judge Denise Cote that it’s committed to fulfilling its obligations, including training, antitrust risk assessment and audits.

Let's back up and look at history of the whole matter. In April 2012 the United States Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, Hachette SA, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster in New York district court, claiming collusion over ebook pricing. The brouhaha centers on Apple’s move to change the way that publishers charged for e-books as it prepared to introduce its first iPad in 2010.

Traditionally, publishers sold books to retailers for roughly half of the recommended cover price. Under that “wholesale model,” booksellers were then free to offer those books to customers for less than the cover price if they wished.

Apple suggested moving to an “agency model,” under which the publishers would set the price of the book and Apple would take a 30% cut. However, Apple also insisted that publishers couldn’t let rival retailers sell the same book at a lower price.