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From Antitrust Law Daily, June 17, 2014

Apple settles e-book price fixing case with U.S., states, and consumers

By Linda O’Brien, J.D., LL.M.

Apple Inc. has reached a settlement in principle in actions brought by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, the attorneys general of 33 states and territories, and a consumer group, in which Apple was alleged to have conspired with five major publishers to fix the prices for electronic books, according to an order by the federal district court in New York City (In re Electronic Books Antitrust Litigation, June 16, 2014, Cote, D.).

The publisher defendants settled the federal and state charges in September 2012. In July 2013, the court found that Apple colluded with the publishers to fix e-book prices in per se violation of the antitrust laws. The plaintiffs’ motion for certification of a class of e-book purchasers was granted by the court. The plaintiffs’ class notification plan also was approved. Apple’s motion to stay the class and states’ actions pending submission and review of its appeal of the class certification decision was denied. A trial for damages was set for July 2014.

Yesterday, the court was informed by the plaintiffs’ counsel that a binding agreement in principle was executed, and the binding memorandum of understanding was submitted as a separate document under seal. The parties acknowledged that Apple’s appeal of the July 2013 order finding it liable for violation of federal and state antitrust laws is pending, a bona fide justiciable dispute remains, and any payments under the settlement agreement are contingent on the outcome of the appeal.

Pending motions for reconsideration by Apple and a motion for summary judgment by the class plaintiffs are being held in abeyance and will be considered withdrawn if the court approves the settlement. The scheduling order is vacated and interim notice of litigation to eligible consumers is suspended. Finally, the parties have until July 16 to file a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement, along with a copy of the settlement agreement.

The case is No. 11 MD 2293 (DLC).

Attorneys: Steve W. Berman (Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP) and Douglas Richards, Kit A. Pierson, and Jeffrey B. Dubner (Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC) for class plaintiffs. Cynthia Richman, Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., and Daniel G. Swanson (Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP) for Apple Inc.

Companies: Apple Inc.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust NewYorkNews

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