Apple wins preliminary court approval for its $450m ebook settlement

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Apple has won a preliminary court approval for its settlement of $450m over claims it harmed consumers by conspiring with five publishers to artificially inflate the prices of ebooks.

US District Judge Denise Cote granted the appeal in a Manhattan court on Friday according to Reuters, which will see Apple settling with states’ attorneys general over allegations.

The case first hit the headlines in 2010 when the US Department of Justice (DoJ) accused Apple and five publishing companies, including Hachette and HarperCollins, of colluding to fix the price of books through Apple’s ebooks service.

The case centred around accusations that Apple and the publishers vowed to charge either $12.99 or $14.99 for the most popular ebooks, above the $9.99 that Amazon would sell them for. Given the dominance of Amazon the publishers were afraid to challenge the retailer and saw Apple as a chance to push back against Amazon.

Over time all the publishers involved settled with the DoJ but Apple vowed to challenge the case. Apple was found guilty in 2013 when in a ruling Cote said it was clear that Apple had known this tactic was illegal but had pressed ahead anyway in order to capitalise on the market demand for its platforms from publishers.

“The Court finds that the Settlement Agreement is the result of extensive, arm’s length negotiations by counsel well-versed in antitrust litigation and the particulars of this case,” Cote said of the agreement on Friday.

“The assistance of a well-known mediator, Antonio Piazza, reinforces the conclusion that the Settlement Agreement is non-collusive.”

The settlement means Apple will pay $400m to cover refunds for readers who purchased titles from its iBooks online store. The iPhone maker will also have to fork out $50m towards lawyers fees in the case.

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2 August 2014 | 9:30 am – Source: v3.co.uk

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