The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but we do know that the damages trial has been indefinitely postponed.
According to the letter which plaintiff’s attorney Steve Berman wrote to Judge Denise Cote, “The parties write to inform the Court that the Class Plaintiffs, State Plaintiffs, and Apple have executed a binding agreement in principle to resolve the Class litigation, and the damages phase of the States’ litigation.” The judge signed an order agreeing the plaintiffs in the case will have until July 16 to file the proposed settlement terms.
This comes as a surprise.
Having settled a similar case in Europe, Apple has been doing everything in their power to fight the allegation that they conspired with 5 US publishers in early 2010 to raise ebook prices and force Amazon to adopt retail price maintenance. While the 5 publishers settled in advance of the trial, Apple defended themselves in court in June 2013 and lost.
Since then they have been fighting a rear guard action with motions, appeals, and even going over Judge Cote’s head with a couple appeals to the 2nd Circuit Court. Apple is still working on an appeal to get the entire case thrown out, but they had exhausted all of their options for delaying the damages phase of the ebook antitrust lawsuit.
The plaintiffs were said to be seeking up to $840 million in damages, but at this point we don’t know just how much they are getting from Apple. But however much Apple agreed to pay, it will probably amount to less than a percent of its cash reserves. That makes the financial penalties less than a slap on the wrist, which might explain why Apple finally settled.
image by mando2003us