Bryan Cohen Jul. 10, 2013, 7:17pm

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced Wednesday that a federal judge ruled that Apple Inc. violated state and federal law by conspiring to fix prices in the market for electronic books.

U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote ruled that Apple played a central role in executing and facilitating a conspiracy meant to eliminate retail price competition to raise eBook prices. Following the ruling, a trial on a request for injunctive relief and damages will be scheduled.

"As we have said throughout our investigation, consumers are entitled to a fair, open and competitive marketplace," Jepsen said. "The judge found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Apple conspired to restrain the marketplace for eBooks. This is a welcome decision for consumers and, as we move into the next phase of this trial, we will continue to aggressively seek compensation for those who have been injured by this conspiracy."

In February, Jepsen announced that Holtzbrinck LLC, doing business as Macmillan, agreed to settle the same claims against it for a $12 million payment to consumers in participating states. A $75 million settlement in the eBooks matter was reached with Penguin in May.

Also in February, Cote granted approval of prior settlements with eBooks publishers Simon & Schuster Inc., Harper Collins Publishers LLC and Hachette Book Group Inc. related to the same matter. The settlements were joined by attorneys general from 49 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. The agreements resulted in the recovery of approximately $164 million for consumers.

The settlements and litigation are the result of a two-year inquiry by Jepsen's office, along with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office and the U.S. Department of Justice.

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