Apple $450 million e-book settlement wins court approval
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) on Friday won preliminary court approval for its $450 million settlement of claims it harmed consumers by conspiring with five publishers to raise e-book prices.
In approving the accord, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan overcame concerns she had expressed over a settlement provision allowing Apple to pay just $70 million if related litigation were to drag out.
Apple has been appealing Cote's July 2013 finding, in a case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, that it violated antitrust laws for colluding with the publishers to drive up e-book prices and impede rivals such as Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O: Quote).
In June, Apple agreed to settle related class-action litigation brought on behalf of consumers and 33 U.S. states.
That accord calls for Apple to pay $400 million to consumers and $50 million to lawyers if the federal appeals court in New York upholds Cote's findings, and nothing if the Cupertino, California-based company wins its appeal.
But if the appeals court overturns Cote and returns the case to her, perhaps for a new trial, Apple will owe $50 million to consumers and $20 million to lawyers.
During a July 24 teleconference, Cote called that last scenario "most troubling."
But in Friday's decision, she noted that the states and consumers "strongly believe" such a scenario is unlikely, and that the settlement has provisions to reduce its likelihood. Continued...