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How much will Apple cough for ebook conspiracy? Trial starts May 2014

Decision on potentially huge payout will happen next year

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Apple is due to face a trial on damages in summer next year, after a judge found the fruity firm guilty of conspiring with publishers to raise the price of ebooks.

US District Judge Denise Cote said that if another resolution hadn't been arrived at before then, the trial would be scheduled to kick off in May 2014 to determine the damages the fruity firm should pay to the federal government and 33 US states and territories. The trial schedule gives the parties until December this year to get all their evidence together.

Cote ruled back in July that Apple had "played a central role in facilitating and executing" the price conspiracy, which the US Department of Justice had argued pushed ebook prices from the $9.99 that Amazon was charging to $12.99 and $14.99.

The DoJ has proposed a series of restrictions on Apple, including refraining for five years from entering new contracts that restrain it from competing on price, not just with publishers but also with the suppliers of music, movies, TV shows and other content on its iTunes store.

The judge said in a hearing on Friday that she was considering the proposal, but with fewer tight restrictions on the fruity firm. She said she was hesitant about the court-appointed external monitor the government was keen on and preferred the idea of a strong internal antitrust compliance programme, Reuters reported.

Apple has said that the government's remedy is "absurdly broad, invasive, vague, draconian and punitive".

The publishers, Macmillan, Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin and Simon & Schuster have also filed a formal objection to the proposal in court. ®

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