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Apple settles e-book antitrust case with US states, others

U.S. District Judge in Manhattan Denise Cote ordered the parties to submit a filing to seek approval of their settlement within 30 days.

The terms of the settlement, which still needs court approval, have not been revealed.

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The U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple and five publishers in April 2012, accusing them of working together illegally to increase e-book prices.

A customer walks out of the Apple store with his new Apple Inc. iPad Air in Palo Alto, California.
Tony Avelar | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A customer walks out of the Apple store with his new Apple Inc. iPad Air in Palo Alto, California.

Since then, 33 states and U.S. territories have separately sued Apple on behalf of their consumers, while individual consumers in other states and territories filed a class action lawsuit.

The complainants are seeking up to $840 million in damages for e-book customers. The exact amount of damages was to be litigated at a trial scheduled for July 14.

The publishersHachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group (USA), Macmillan and Simon & Schusterpreviously agreed to pay more than $166 million to settle related antitrust charges.

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Last July, a federal court found Apple liable for colluding with the publishers after a separate non-jury trial in a case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Judge Cote found that Apple took part in a price-fixing conspiracy to fight online retailer Amazon.com's dominance in the e-book market.

Apple is appealing that decision and Monday's settlement is contingent on the outcome of that appeal.

"As set forth in the memorandum of understanding, any payment to be made by Apple under the settlement agreement will be contingent on the outcome of that appeal," Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, the plaintiffs' lead lawyer, wrote in a letter to the judge.

Berman declined to comment on the settlement until the final papers are filed. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, also declined to comment on the settlement.

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The cases are in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, case no: 11-md-2293 and 12-cv-03394.

By Reuters