Supreme Court denies Apple appeal in e-books price fixing case

The company will pay $450 million in a settlement, with most of the money going to e-book buyers

Apple will pay US$450 million as a settlement for e-book price fixing after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the company's appeal of a lower court's antitrust ruling.

The Supreme Court's decision Monday ends Apple's appeal of the antitrust case against the company and five book publishers and upholds a June 2015 antitrust ruling at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Apple had agreed in 2014 to pay a $450 million settlement in the case, brought by the Department of Justice and 33 states and territories in 2012, if the company did not win its appeals. Late last year, the company asked the Supreme Court to take up the case.

The DOJ accused Apple, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster of conspiring to raise prices in retaliation for Amazon.com pricing most e-books at $9.99 beginning in late 2007.

Apple and the publishers conspired to set e-book prices at $12.99 and $16.99, the DOJ alleged. In early 2010, publishers agreed to shift to a new pricing model where they set the prices for e-books, instead of retailers, the agency charged.

Most of the money from Apple -- $400 million -- plus another $166 million settlement from the publishers, will go back to e-book purchasers, the DOJ said. The other $50 million in Apple's settlement covers lawyers' fees and payments to states.

Most e-book purchasers will receive reimbursement for the higher prices they paid through automatic credits at their e-book retailers, the agency said in a press release.

"Apple’s liability for knowingly conspiring with book publishers to raise the prices of e-books is settled once and for all," Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the DOJ's Antitrust Division, said in a statement. "And consumers will be made whole."

Apple did not immediately response to a request for comments on the Supreme Court's denial of its appeal.

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service
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