New court documents filed today have revealed that Apple has agreed to pay $450 million to settle the damages claims brought by the DOJ, state's attorney generals, and civil attorneys who had filed class-action lawsuits.
The payment comes in the damages phase of an antitrust lawsuit which was filed by the Dept of Justice in 2012. Apple and 5 publishers were accused of conspiring to raise ebook prices and restrict competition. The 5 publishers settled before trial, but Apple fought the case in court and lost in July 2013.
The $450 million is going to be divided between three parties, with consumers directly benefiting the most. We will receive $400 million in compensation, while the states will get $20 million and the class-action lawyers will get $30 million to be divided between the lawyers and their clients.
The payment, while large, is not guaranteed. It is actually dependent on Apple losing the appeal they filed earlier this week. Should Apple succeed in getting the July 2013 ruling overturned they will pay nothing, and if they somehow manage to get it "vacated and remanded or reversed and remanded for reconsideration or retrial on the merits", Apple will only have to pay $70 million. Given that Apple has already lost two appeals for temporary stays of this trial, it does not seem likely that Apple will win their appeal and get the ruling overturned, not even in part.
Consumers have already received $166 million from the 5 publishers in earlier settlements, with most of the money going to Amazon and Barnes & Noble customers in the form of store credits. The $400 million will be distributed by the same means, and when that happens it will be a windfall for the publishing industry. According to B&N $21.5 million in credits from the publishers' settlements were used in the Nook Store in the first month, out of $44.2 million in credits available to B&N customers in all. They also estimate that around $10 million in settlement credits will go unused by the end of the year, at which time they will expire.
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