Apple opts for an out of court settlement to avoid $800m eBook fine
Apple has avoided an $800 million bill from a clutch of US states and other complainants by reaching an out of court settlement in a controversial price-fixing case.
The settlement, the terms of which are yet to be revealed, still has to be ratified by the court and both sides involved in the deal have 30 days to submit a filing to US District Judge in Manhattan Denise Cote for it to be approved.
Apple was first accused in April 2012 by the US Department of Justice, alongside five publishers, of colluding to illegally inflate the price of eBooks, which triggered off the class action by 33 states and US territories as well as other individual customers.
The earlier case, which found Apple took part in price fixing in order to fight Amazon’s dominance in the eBook sector, came to a conclusion last July with Apple still appealing that decision and the settlement in this case depends on the outcome of that appeal.
"As set forth in the memorandum of understanding, any payment to be made by Apple under the settlement agreement will be contingent on the outcome of that appeal," Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, the plaintiffs' lead lawyer, wrote in a letter to the judge.
Apple complained in August 2013 that the US DOJ decision is heavily weighted towards its competitor, Amazon, and that the new proposals covering the market were a "broadside masquerading as a brief".
The plaintiffs in the case are seeking damages of $840 million for eBook customers and the exact amount was to be settled at a trial that is scheduled to get underway on 14 July.
Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group Inc, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster Inc, all previously agreed to pay out over $166 million in related antitrust charges and the publishers aren’t a part of this case.
Kristin Huguet, a spokesperson, declined to comment further to Reuters on the settlement and more will be known once the 30-day period has elapsed.
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