As the European Commission launched a formal investigation into practices associated with Apple affecting the sale of e-books on Tuesday, a similar lawsuit lurks in the U.S.

This past August, Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman filed a class-action lawsuit accusing Apple and the same five publishers named in the EC probe of e-book price fixing - Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck.

"The lawsuit alleges that the publishers and Apple colluded to increase prices for popular e-book titles to boost profits and force e-book rival Amazon to abandon its pro-consumer discount pricing," Hagens Berman stated nearly four months ago.

According to Hagens Berman, “Publishers believed that Amazon’s wildly popular Kindle e-reader device and the company’s discounted pricing for e-books would increase the adoption of e-books, and feared Amazon’s discounted pricing structure would permanently set consumer expectations for lower prices, even for other e-reader devices.”

“Fortunately for the publishers, they had a co-conspirator as terrified as they were over Amazon’s popularity and pricing structure, and that was Apple,” said Steve Berman, founding partner of Hagen Berman.

The lawsuit is currently in its opening stages, and a trial date has not yet been set by a California federal court.

Whether a larger federal investigation may be pursued in the U.S. is up in the air, but according to New York University Professor of Law Harry First, it’s not out of the question. “Legally there would be no reason not to. The law relating to this matter is pretty similar in the U.S. and Europe.”