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Apple 'plotted over e-book prices'

Tech giant Apple conspired with publishers to raise electronic book prices, a US judge has ruled, saying the evidence left no doubt that the company broke anti competition laws.

US District Judge Denise Cote said Apple knew that no publisher could risk acting alone to try to eliminate Amazon's 9.99 dollars price for the most popular e-books so it "created a mechanism and environment that enabled them to act together in a matter of weeks to eliminate all retail price competition for their e-books."

She added: "The evidence is overwhelming that Apple knew of the unlawful aims of the conspiracy and joined the conspiracy with the specific intent to help it succeed." She said damages would be decided at a later hearing.

Apple said planned to appeal in the case which was brought by the US government. "Apple did not conspire to fix e-book pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations," said a spokesman. "We've done nothing wrong."

Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer called the ruling "a victory for millions of consumers who choose to read books electronically."

He said the judge agreed with the Justice Department that executives at the highest levels of Apple orchestrated a conspiracy with five major publishers to raise prices.

"Through today's court decision and previous settlements with five major publishers, consumers are again benefiting from retail price competition and paying less for their e-books," he said.

Apple lawyer Orin Snyder had told the judge that she would set a "dangerous precedent" if she concluded that it manipulated e-book prices as it entered the market in 2010.

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