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Apple Reaches Settlement in E-Book Antitrust Case

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An out-of-court settlement was reached between Apple Inc. and complainants in a class action lawsuit regarding e-book price-fixing allegations, according to Reuters. The settlement keeps the lawsuit from reaching a trial, in which the company faced $800 million in claims.

The parties have been ordered to submit filings to seek approval of the settlement within 30 days by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan. The terms of the settlement have not be made public and still need to be approved by the court.

Apple and five publishers were sued by the United States Department of Justice back in April of 2012. The company was accused of working together illegally to increase the price of e-books.

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Since the filing of the first lawsuit, 33 states and United States territories have sued Apple separately on behalf of consumers. At the same time, individual consumers filed a class action lawsuit in other states and territories. The complainants are asking for $840 million in damages for customers of e-books. A trial was scheduled for July 14 to determine the exact amount of the damages.

Previously, publishers had agreed to settle antitrust charges by paying $166 million. The publishers involved include HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, Penguin Group (USA) and Simon & Schuster Inc.

A federal court in July found Apple liable for colluding with those publishers following a non-jury trial in a case filed by the Department of Justice. Judge Cote ruled that Apple was involved in a price-fixing scheme to fight Amazon.com’s dominance in the market for e-books. Apple is appealing the decision and the settlement will be contingent on the appeal ruling.

“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.

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