Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers today announced a settlement of a lawsuit against Apple Inc. related to the company’s participation in a price-fixing conspiracy in the market for e-books. Consumers nationwide will receive $400 million if the district court’s liability holding is ultimately affirmed. If the appellate courts do not affirm, consumers may receive substantially less (or no compensation) from Apple. The settlement is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Colorado was one of the original states to pursue antitrust allegations against Apple and the publishers.
Already, e-book purchasers nationwide have benefitted from $166 million in settlement funds paid by the five publishers involved in the conspiracy. Apple, however, did not settle with the states, and the anti-trust case went to trial last summer and a permanent injunction addressing Apple Inc.’s illegal activities regarding e-book price fixing was issued. Apple was required to modify its agreements with the five publishers; provide for a court-appointed external monitor, and was barred from future anticompetitive behavior.
“Approximately two percent of e-book purchases in the United States were made by Colorado consumers,” said Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. “The price-fixing conspiracy between Apple and the publishers caused an immediate increase in cost to these consumers. We’re pleased that additional ill-gotten profits may ultimately be returned to consumers.”
Under the settlement, the amount paid to consumers is contingent upon the resolution of Apple’s appeal of the district court’s July 2013 determination that Apple violated the antitrust laws. That appeal is currently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The settlement is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.