Preliminary Court Approves Apple's $450 e-Book Settlement

Aug 04, 2014 03:30 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro


Apple won preliminary court approval for its $450 e-book settlement this weekend of claims its hurt consumers by conspiring with five publishers to raise the prices of e-books.

The approval means U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan overcame concerns she had expressed over a settlement provision letting Apple pay just $70 million if litigation were to drag out.

Apple has been appealing Cote's July 2013 finding that it violated antitrust laws for conspiring with the publishers to increase e-book prices and impede rivals like

The iPhone-maker agreed to settle related class-action litigation brought on behalf of consumers and 33 U.S. states back in June, according to Reuters.

The accord requires Apple to pay $400 million to consumers and $50 million to lawyers if the federal appeals court in N.Y. upholds Cote's findings, nothing if Apple wins its appeal.

If the appeals court overturns Cote and returns her case, Apple will owe $50 million to consumers and $20 million to lawyers.

Cote called the last scenario "most troubling" during a July 24 teleconference.

Regarding Friday's decision, she said that the states and consumers "strongly believe" such a scenario is unlikely, and that the settlement has "provisions to reduce its likelihood," according to Reuters.

Cote added that the plaintiffs agreed to give more details about the settlement to consumers in order to help them decide whether or not to accept Apple's terms or to sue Apple separately.

"The proposed settlement agreement is within the range of those that may be approved as fair and reasonable, such that notice to the class is appropriate," Cote said, according to Reuters.. "Preliminary approval is granted."

A final fairness hearing has been set for Nov. 21.

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