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Apple E-Books Judge Says She’ll Limit Antitrust Remedies

The federal judge who last month found Apple Inc. liable for fixing e-book prices said she plans to limit the remedies sought by the U.S. to ensure they “rest as lightly as possible” on the way the company does business.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan yesterday said she intends to narrow several of the measures suggested by the Justice Department to prevent future e-book price-fixing, including the authority of a monitor appointed by the court to assess Apple’s antitrust compliance training.

Cote ruled last month after a three-week trial that Apple, the maker of the iPad tablet computer, helped coordinate a conspiracy with five book publishers to limit retail price competition and raise e-book prices.

The judge said she will require Apple to abandon for two years agency pricing agreements, under which publishers set retail prices and Apple was paid a percentage of the sale price.

She said she will sign a final order spelling out the remedies next week.

The U.S. sued Cupertino, California-based Apple and the five publishers in April 2012. After the trial, which began June 3, Apple was also found liable to 33 states that joined the Justice Department in the suit. The company faces a separate trial on damages. The Justice Department didn’t ask for money damages in its case.

Apple, which plans to appeal Cote’s judgment, also faces private consumer class actions over e-book pricing. The judge’s findings may aid the private plaintiffs.

Cote said yesterday she hopes that Apple, the world’s biggest technology company, will bring its “excellence and exceptionalism” to the task of training employees to comply with antitrust law and that it will “make a sincere effort to reform its culture.”

The case is U.S. v. Apple Inc., 12-cv-02826, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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