SEC Lifts Ban, Apple Ruling: Ahead of the Ticker

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A U.S. district judge has found Apple ( AAPL) guilty of colluding with book publishers to raise e-book prices, a violation of federal antitrust law.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleged that Apple's conspiracy was intended to challenge Amazon.com's ( AMZN) dominance in the e-book market. Apple and book publishers allegedly colluded on ways to raise e-book prices above the $9.99 price tag Amazon often used.

"Apple chose to join forces with the publisher defendants to raise e-book prices and equipped them with the means to do so," said U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in her decision.

Cote said a new hearing will be scheduled to determine damages. Book publishers Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster all settled with the Department of Justice prior to the trial.

An Apple spokesman said the company did not conspire to fix e-book pricing and will appeal the judge's decision.


In other news, the Securities and Exchange Commission has removed a ban on hedge funds using advertisements to raise money.

The SEC voted 4 to 1 in favor of changing the rule, which will allow firms to advertise publicly to anyone they want. However, only accredited investors with a minimum net worth of $1 million, excluding their primary residence, or income of at least $200,000 a year for each of the prior two years will be permitted to invest in the private offerings.

The rule was originally included in Congress' Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act last year, which aimed to help small businesses and create jobs.

Hedge funds and other firms will able to begin advertising to the public later this year.

Under the ban, hedge funds and similar companies were only allowed to market to wealthy individuals.


Lastly, Chinese investigators said executives of British drug company GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK) have confessed to acts of corruption within the company.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, GlaxoSmithKline executives admitted to bribery and tax crimes in preliminary questioning. The ministry said in a statement that the individuals committed the fraudulent acts in order to sell products or raise prices.

"As a big multinational pharmaceutical company, GSK China in recent years rampantly bribed some government officials, a number of pharmaceutical industry groups and funds, hospitals and doctors," the ministry said in the statement.

The ministry said the case "involves a large number of people, a long period of time, a huge value and its circumstances are vile."

GlaxoSmithKline said the company was willing to cooperate with the investigation. The company said in a statement, "Corruption has no place in our business. If evidence of such activity is provided we would of course act swiftly on it."

The investigation is ongoing.


The chatter on Main Street (a.k.a. Google, Yahoo! and other search sites) is always of interest to investors on Wall Street. Thus, each day, TheStreet compiles the stories that are trending on the Web, and highlights the news that could make stocks move.

-- Written by Brittany Umar.
Brittany joined TheStreet.com TV in November 2006 after completing a degree in Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers College. Previously, Brittany interned at the local ABC affiliate in New York City WABC-TV 7 where she helped research and produce On Your Side, a popular consumer advocacy segment.

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