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As is the courtâs custom, its brief order turning down the case gave no reasons.
The case arose from Appleâs 2010 entry into the e-book marketplace, which had been dominated by Amazon and its Kindle reader. Publishers frustrated with Amazonâs low prices welcomed the new retailer, its iPad device and its willingness to let them set their own prices, with Apple taking a cut of each sale.
Last year, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, said the terms Apple had offered to five big publishers allowed them to engage in a price-fixing conspiracy.
In urging the Supreme Court to hear the case, Apple Inc. v. United States, No. 15-565, the company said its actions had promoted competition.
âAppleâs launch of the iBookstore as a platform for tens of millions of consumers to buy and read digital books on the iPad dramatically enhanced competition in the e-books market, benefiting authors, e-book publishers, and retail consumers,â Apple said in its petition seeking a Supreme Court review. âFollowing Appleâs entry, output increased, overall prices decreased and a major new retailer began to compete in a market formerly dominated by a single firm.â
âIf a new firmâs entry disrupts a monopoly and creates long-term competition, that is to be lauded, whether the previous prices were artificially high or artificially low,â the brief said.
The appeals court disagreed. âCompetition is not served by permitting a market entrant to eliminate price competition as a condition of entry, and it is cold comfort to consumers that they gained a new e-book retailer at the expense of passing control over all e-book prices to a cartel of book publishers,â Judge Debra Ann Livingston wrote for the majority.
The case began in 2012, when the Justice Department accused Apple and five publishers of conspiring to raise e-book prices above Amazonâs standard of $ 9.99 for new titles by introducing an agency model of pricing. The five publishers settled, but Apple went to trial.
Judge Denise L. Cote of United States District Court in Manhattan, ruled for the government, finding that the publishers had joined a price-fixing conspiracy and that Apple âwas a knowing and active member of that conspiracy.â
Judge Cote relied in part on the words of Steven P. Jobs, the companyâs co-founder, who died in 2011.
âI can live with this, as long as they move Amazon to the agent model too for new releases,â Mr. Jobs wrote to Eddy Cue, Appleâs senior vice president for Internet software and services. âIf they donât, Iâm not sure we can be competitive.â
Judge Cote said that the company had no good explanations for that and other communications. âApple has struggled mightily to reinterpret Jobsâs statements in a way that will eliminate their bite,â she wrote. âIts efforts have proven fruitless.â