Apple Inc. Settles e-Book’s Price Fixing Case A Month Before Trial

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has finally agreed to settle an antitrust lawsuit where it was required to pay damages worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the issue of fixing e-book prices with the book publishers, according to a report from Bloomberg. The settlement comes with less than one month left before the scheduled beginning of the trial.

Settlement terms kept secret

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote revealed the resolution of the class-action lawsuit in a brief court filing on Monday. The resolution requires the attorneys general in the 33 states that filed the lawsuit and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to comply with the court’s requirement to submit a copy of the settlement agreement within a month. The filing did not disclose the terms of the agreement.

Damages amounting to $280 million were sought by the state attorneys general, but in January, a request to triple the amount to $840 million was made after it was “conclusively proven” by the U.S. that the conspiracy had been masterminded by Apple. With the progress made by the case into the damages phase, dismissal of the attorneys general case was sought by Apple. The iPhone maker claimed that states do not have sufficient standing to seek damages.

Apple had a weaker position

The damages phase of the lawsuit was scheduled to begin on July 14th, and is the final phase of a lawsuit filed in April 2012 by the Justice Department. In this lawsuit, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) along with five major U.S. book publishers was accused of conspiring to set  e-book prices. The alleged parties planned to work together so that Amazon, who has a strong hold on the market with its Kindle e-book reader, was weakened. This scheme for fixing the prices of e-books with publishers was devised by Apple; Cote concluded after a non-jury trial. This ruling was appealed by Apple.

In April, the motion was denied by Cote, and in May, the petition for an emergency stay of district court proceedings pending resolution of an appeal concerning the case’s class status by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was denied by a federal appeals court.

After Apple’s appeal, Steve Berman, the plaintiff’s attorney, sent a letter to Cote indicating that “any payment to be made by Apple under the settlement agreement will be contingent on the outcome of that appeal.”

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