Apple settles e-book antitrust dispute with U.S. states, consumer group

Payments under the settlement agreement will depend on the outcome of Apple's appeal of a New York court's order

Apple has reached an out-of-court settlement in the e-books price-fixing lawsuit with U.S. states and a consumer group ahead of a trial for damages scheduled for July 14, according to records in a New York federal court.

The iPhone maker will, however, continue its appeal of a verdict in July last year, in which U.S. District Judge Denise Cote of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Apple and five major U.S. publishers had conspired to raise prices in the e-book market to counter Amazon.com.((

Until the appeal is finally disposed, "a bona fide justiciable dispute remains as to the District Court's findings and conclusions on liability and injunctive relief," wrote Steve W. Berman, counsel for the plaintiffs, in a letter on Monday to the judge. Any payment to be made by Apple under the settlement agreement will also depend on the outcome of the appeal, he added.

Judge Cote has put in abeyance motions from Apple and the class group, which will be considered withdrawn if the court approves the settlement. The judge set July 16 for filing a motion for preliminary approval of settlement along with a copy of the settlement agreement.

The U.S. Department of Justice, 33 states and U.S. territories and a group of consumers claiming class status brought lawsuits charging that Apple and the publishers had conspired to raise e-book prices in 2010.

The book publishers settled before a trial on liability that was held in June 2013. In March this year, Judge Cote granted class certification to the group of consumers.

Apple has argued that it had no knowledge that publishers were engaged in a conspiracy in December 2009 or at any other point, and had offered a retail business model to the publishers that was in the company's independent business interests and was attractive to the publishers, who were frustrated with Amazon.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit last month refused to stay the trial for damages pending Apple's appeal of proceedings in the New York court.

Apple could not be immediately reached for comment on the settlement.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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