U.S. appeals court upholds Apple e-book settlement

Wed Feb 17, 2016 2:50pm EST
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld Apple Inc's $450 million settlement of claims that it harmed consumers by conspiring with five publishers to raise e-book prices.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rejected a challenge by e-books purchaser John Bradley to the fairness, reasonableness and adequacy of Apple's class-action antitrust settlement with consumers and 33 state attorneys general.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan had approved the settlement in November 2014.

Apple agreed to the accord after Cote in July 2013 found it liable for having played a "central role" in a conspiracy with the publishers to eliminate retail price competition and undercut market leader Amazon.com Inc's dominance.

The alleged conspiracy caused some e-book prices to rise to $12.99 or $14.99 from Amazon's $9.99 price, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Cote ruled after a non-jury trial, and the 2nd Circuit later upheld her liability finding.

Apple has appealed that finding to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying it could harm competition and the economy.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide in its current term whether to hear the Cupertino, California-based company's appeal.   Continued...

An Apple logo is seen at the Apple store in Munich, Germany, January 27, 2016.  REUTERS/Michaela Rehle