Apple has provisionally agreed to a $450 million settlement over an ebook price-fixing lawsuit, saying it will make the payment if its appeal doesn’t go through. The company was sued by the US Department of Justice in 2012 for agreeing a base price for ebooks with the top five publishers, requiring them to sell their wares for the same price on iBooks and Amazon. Shortly afterwards, 33 individual states joined in legal action. Apple lost the DoJ suit last year, and reached a settlement with the states earlier this year. Now it’s been revealed just how much it’s agreed to pay: $400 million will be paid to consumers, with $50 million heading to lawyers. That could change however if Apple wins its appeal in the DoJ case.
Details have emerged of Apple’s out-of-court settlement with 33 US states that had accused the company of hiking up ebook prices. US attorneys general revealed today that the iPad maker is on the hook to pay out $400m to readers. Lawyers will walk away with as much as $50m on top of that. The conditional settlement will only go ahead if the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York declines a pending appeal from Apple. The court of appeals could decided to cut the $450m figure to $70m ($50m for affected buyers) or scrap it completely. Apple is appealing against a New York federal judge’s ruling in 2013 that the tech giant participated in a price-fixing conspiracy that raised the prices of ebooks. The US states are using that federal court decision to strong-arm Apple into a settlement. “This settlement proves that even the biggest, most powerful companies in the world must play by the same rules as everyone else,” New York State Attorney General Schneiderman said in announcing the pact. “In a major victory, our settlement has the potential to result in Apple paying hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers to compensate them for paying unlawfully inflated E-book prices. We will continue to work with our colleagues in other states to ensure that all companies compete fairly with the knowledge that no one is above the law.” Apple agreed to the settlement package in June, but the details had been kept under wraps as Cupertino is waiting to play out its final appeal before formalizing the deal.