(credit: David Kravets)

Apple picked up a major ally in its battle against the Justice Department’s e-book price-fixing case against the gadget maker. The Authors Guild and several other writers groups told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that Apple didn’t illegally conspire with major publishers to fix and raise the prices of e-books, as an appeals court ruled. Instead, Apple enhanced competition, the guild claimed in a friend-of-the-court brief.
The authors were challenging a June federal appeals court decision that found Apple liable for engaging in e-book price-fixing in an antitrust lawsuit brought by the Justice Department and 33 states. The government also sued publishers Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan.
The publishers agreed to settle the 2012 suit for $164 million. Apple fought the charges and lost, and it appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, where it is pending high court action. Apple argued that at the time of its 2010 entry into the e-book business, Amazon was its only real competitor, and Amazon was selling e-books for $9.99, which Apple said was well below a competitive price. Apple claimed it worked with publishers to hit a price point that would help Apple be profitable enough to enter the e-book market and compete with Amazon.
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