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Apple prepares for courtroom grilling over eBook price fixing

Major tech firms being hauled into the courtroom is becoming an increasingly familiar tale, and Apple’s latest stint in front of a judge begins today in New York over allegations of price-fixing.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) sued Apple and five other publishers in April 2012 amid accusations of an "illegal conspiracy" involving the price-fixing of eBooks, dating back to 2009.

Prosecutors claim that Apple pushed for an ‘agency model’ – collaborating with the publishers to agree on eBook prices rather than allowing individual retailers set the costs. It is alleged the Cupertino firm adopted the unlawful tactics to curb the market dominance of rival Amazon, though Apple has consistently denied the charges.

"Apple set out to impose a new distribution model on e-books, a so-called agency model, under which [the defendant publishers] could set their higher consumer prices and then hand over the extra revenues to Apple," the DOJ said in a filing.

The five publishers, Penguin, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck Publishers, and Simon & Schuster have all agreed settlements with the DOJ, but a stubborn Apple will continue its defence during the three week trial beginning today.

Taking a look at the wider picture for Apple as a company, last week guest blogger David Gibson of data management firm Varonis asked whether Apple could emulate its consumer success in the business and enterprise realm.