Facing $840 million in damages, Apple settles e-book antitrust case with U.S. states
By Supriya Kurane
(Reuters) – Apple Inc reached an out-of-court settlement with U.S. states and other complainants in an e-book price-fixing class action lawsuit on Monday, effectively avoiding a trial in which the iPad maker faced more than $800 million in claims.
U.S. District Judge in Manhattan Denise Cote ordered the parties to submit a filing to seek approval of their settlement within 30 days.
The terms of the settlement, which still needs court approval, have not been revealed.
The U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple and five publishers in April 2012, accusing them of working together illegally to increase e-book prices.
Since then, 33 states and U.S. territories have separately sued Apple on behalf of their consumers, while individual consumers in other states and territories filed a class action lawsuit.
The complainants are seeking up to $840 million in damages for e-book customers. The exact amount of damages was to be litigated at a trial scheduled for July 14.
The publishers – Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster Inc, previously agreed to pay more than $166 million to settle related antitrust charges.
Last July, a federal court found Apple liable for colluding with the publishers after a separate non-jury trial in a case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Judge Cote found that Apple took part in a price-fixing conspiracy to fight online retailer Amazon.com Inc’s dominance in the e-book market.
Apple is appealing that decision and Monday’s settlement is contingent 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.
Berman declined to comment on the settlement until the final papers are filed. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, also declined to comment on the settlement.
The cases are in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, case no: 11-md-2293 and 12-cv-03394.
(Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)