A federal judge gave her final nod to a settlement in which Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has agreed to pay a whopping $450 million to as many as 23 million consumers for its alleged role in a conspiracy to fix eBook prices in New York on Friday. Apple was charged with violating antitrust law by colluding with publishers and pushing up eBook prices, in an attempt to capture a part of Amazon’s market.
The US District Court Judge, Denise Cote has approved of the “highly unusual” accord during a hearing in Manhattan.
Though the settlement has been finalized, Apple will be required to pay only if it loses its appeal of a 2013 price-fixing ruling. In that scenario, Apple would be required to pay $20 million to lawyers and $50 million to consumers.
The next hearing has been scheduled for December 15 in Manhattan. Lawyers for the purchasers of the eBooks are confident that Apple’s appeal will not be successful.
Together with five leading publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster), the iPhone manufacturer was found guilty of conspiring to push up prices of eBooks, trying to check the growth of Amazon. The publishers found guilty of the same have already settled the charges against them for $166 million few months back.
The suit was initiated by the Justice Department in 2012. It has taken unusually long to wind up, largely because of delays caused by Apple. When contacted to comment about the settlement on Friday, there was no response from Apple’s spokeswoman.
The suit had earlier accused Apple as being the mastermind behind the conspiracy with five leading publishers to push up the average prices of electronically downloaded books and breaking free from the $9.99 price which Amazon had made laid down for new e-book releases.
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