US federal judge rules Apple conspired to raise e-book prices

Following a non-jury trial that ended on June 20th, US District Judge Denise Cote has ruled that Apple conspired to raise the retail prices of e-books, according to a Reuters report published this morning. Apple has been at the focus of the Manhattan-based antitrust trial, which began last month, with publishers Macmillan and Penguin Group named as co-defendants. The violation here centered on Apple's agency pricing model, in which publishers set the price of each book and give sellers a 30 percent cut, rather than a traditional wholesale model in which retailers set the pricing at their own stores. Eddy Cue, Apple's SVP of Internet Software and Services, who was tagged as the "chief ringleader of the conspiracy" by the DOJ, went on the record earlier this year to say that some prices were inflated since the launch of the iBookstore in April of 2010 -- a statement which likely didn't help Cupertino's case. A trial for damages will reportedly follow soon.

Update: TechCrunch has received the below statement from an Apple spokesperson.

Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations. When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We've done nothing wrong and we will appeal the judge's decision.