US blames Apple in NY for driving up e-book prices

NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. government lawyer has accused Apple Inc. of teaming with publishers in 2010 to drive up the prices of electronic books.

The Justice Department attorney, Lawrence Buterman, opened a New York trial by telling a judge Monday that Apple's scheme cost U.S. consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. He says a dramatic price increase was encouraged by Apple's late founder, Steve Jobs. Buterman said the conspiracy was meant to end's $9.99 pricing scheme for e-books.

The nonjury trial is expected to last several weeks.

Lawyers for Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple say the allegations are based on "faulty assumptions and unfounded conclusions."

Five publishers named in the lawsuit have settled. The judge had urged Apple to do the same.