After U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled in July 2013 that Apple Inc. conspired with major publishers to fix e-book prices, it was only a matter of time before customers started lining up in a class action lawsuit. But now, Apple can put the mess behind it, as the company and attorneys representing the class have reached a settlement in the case.
Steve Berman, the attorney representing the class and some U.S. states, wrote in a U.S. district court filing that the parties had reached an agreement. The exact terms of the settlement have not been disclosed and still need to be approved by Judge Cote, and the settlement is contingent upon the result of Apple’s appeal of Judge Cote’s original ruling.
The plaintiffs in the case had been seeking $840 million in the case, according to the Wall Street Journal. They claimed that Apple overcharged customers by $280 million through the e-book price fixing, and the class sought three times that amount in damages.
When Apple was found guilty of conspiring to fix prices in 2013, the Department of Justice (DOJ) did not impose any monetary penalties. Instead, the DOJ imposed institutional controls on the company, including a 10-year injunction, an internal monitor to oversee e-book sales, and a requirement to allow other e-book sellers — such as Amazon — to be able to link to their own e-book stores through iOS apps.
Apple, however, has not been happy with the DOJ’s ruling. When it was originally announced, Apple lawyer Orin Snyder called the DOJ’s policies a “broadside masquerading as a brief” and asked that they be revised.
In addition, Apple and the court’s appointed monitor, Michael Bromwich, have engaged in a court battle over the latter’s monitoring practices. Apple claimed that Bromwich overcharged for his services due to a lack of a competitive market, a charge that Bromwich denied. Judge Cote originally ruled that Apple could not remove Bromwich from his post, but a 2nd Circuit judge later issued a stay on the ruling until an appeals panel could hear Apple’s case.