Apple will pay $450m to settle ebook case if appeal fails

Apple agreed a settlement for its ebook price-fixing court case, which it will pay if it loses appeal

Apple has agreed to pay $450m to settle a legal row over alleged ebook price fixing, although the settlement is conditional on the outcome of an appeal by Apple against the judgment that found it guilty of colluding with publishers.

The long-running legal case goes back to 2010, when the US Department of Justice (DoJ) began proceedings, claiming that Apple had conspired with five publishing companies to fix the price of ebooks available via Apple’s online iBook store for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Mac users.

A US judge finally found Apple guilty almost exactly a year ago, and in response the firm has now agreed to pay the $450m to resolve the case, according to the Reuters news agency.

However, Apple is appealing against that verdict, and the payout will be conditional on the outcome of that appeal.

For its part, Apple continues to assert that it did not actually collude to fix the prices of ebooks, and hopes to have the decision reversed at the appeal. In a statement Apple defended its position but confirmed it would pay up if required.

“Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing, and we will continue to fight those allegations on appeal. We did nothing wrong and we believe a fair assessment of the facts will show it,” it said.

“As we wait for the court to hear our appeal, we have agreed to a settlement which is contingent on the outcome of the appeal. If we are vindicated by the appeals court, no settlement will be paid.”

Under the terms of the agreement, $400m of the payout would be earmarked for compensating consumers. But if Apple’s appeal is successful, the amount it ends up paying may be reduced to $70m, with $50m going to consumers, or payments could be dropped altogether.

The case involved allegations that Apple and the five publishing companies had agreed between themselves on a price point for the most popular ebooks that was higher than the same books available via Amazon’s rival service.

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