Apple has had its plan to pay $450 million to resolve the claims, which suggested the company had conspired with select publishers to drive up e-book prices. A US District Judge in Manhattan ruled on the matter that meant Apple would have to pay $400 million to roughly 23 million customers should the company not be able to appeal a previous ruling that found Apple liable for several antitrust violations. A previous settlement gave $166 million to individuals who purchased e-books, and were subsequently forced to pay prices that were driven upward by Apple and the five publishers they are liable for conspiring with.
Apple had agreed to the original settlement of $166 million ahead of the later trial that found the company liable for conspiring, but with attorneys and lawyers in 33 states and territories representing various entities in court – customers were expected to be seeking as much as $840 million. The Judge who approved the settlement noted that it was an “unusually structured settlement, especially for one arrived at on the eve of trial.”
The deal ensures that Apple can continue fighting the July 2013 ruling that the company was in violation of antitrust laws, by compelling publishers and colluding with them to ensure that e-book prices would challenge rivals like Amazon. However, at this point it appears unlikely that they are going to win any appeal, and are simply mitigating their damages to ensure that they come out of this unscathed in comparison to how bad it could have turned out – should the deal not be reached ahead of time.
$400 million will go to customers, and $50 million will go to lawyers, according to those who worked through the specifics of the deal. However, should the appeal be won by Apple they would simply owe $50 million to consumers and just $20 million to lawyers – a far cry from what the settlement amount.
On December 15th a federal appeals court is expected to hear the case. Apple has remained tight-lipped on the issue, but it would appear as though the company is preparing for the worst-case-scenario, given their eagerness to establish a settlement before their court case is even completed.