Apple 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, US 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 US 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.
In June, Apple agreed to settle related class-action litigation brought on behalf of consumers and 33 US 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.
The publishers are Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group, News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan. They previously agreed to pay $166 million to consumers.
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