UPDATE, 9:09 AM: Apple comes back swinging at today’s ruling. The company says that it “did not conspire to fix ebook pricing” and “will continue to fight against these false accusations.” Apple adds in a statement that its iBookstore, launched in 2010, “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.”
PREVIOUS, 6:58 AM: U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan sided today with government lawyers who alleged that Apple and five book publishers violated antitrust laws beginning in late 2009 with their efforts to undermine Amazon’s $9.99 price for ebooks, Reuters reports. ”Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the spring of 2010,” the judge said in ruling that the plaintiffs now can seek damages. Apple’s efforts resulted in a rise in ebook prices, often to $14.99. The publishers — Lagarde’s Hachette Book Group and Macmillan, News Corp’s HarperCollins, Pearson’s Penguin Group, and CBS’ Simon & Schuster Inc — settled ahead of the trial. Apple didn’t.