Judge approves Apple e-books price-fixing settlement

Apple's agreement to pay $400 million to consumers depends on the outcome of its appeal

A U.S. district court judge has given preliminary approval for Apple to pay a $450 million settlement for its role in an e-books price-fixing conspiracy.

Judge Denise Cote of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday approved the deal that would have Apple paying $400 million to affected e-book buyers and $50 million in attorneys fees in a class-action lawsuit, but only if Apple's appeal of a 2013 price-fixing ruling by the New York court is rejected.

If the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit reverses and remands the case back to district court, the settlement agreement approved by Cote would have Apple pay consumers $50 million and attorneys $20 million. If the appeals court reverses the 2013 decision by the New York court, Apple would pay no damages.

The proposed settlement is "fair and reasonable," Cote wrote in her order. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case "strongly believe" a remand to the district court is unlikely, she noted.

Apple representatives didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the settlement.

The U.S. Department of Justice, in April 2012, filed an antitrust complaint accusing Apple and five book publishers of fixing the prices of e-books. Class-action law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and several state attorneys general have agreed to $166 million in settlements on behalf of consumers from the five publishing companies.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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