A judge from the U.S. gave approval to the Apple e-book settlement for the company’s agreement of paying $450 million in order to resolve claims it hurt consumers by plotting to raise e-book prices along with five publishers.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote during a hearing in Manhattan approved what she called a “highly unusual” agreement. The agreement calls for Apple to pay as many as 23 million people $400 million in e-book credits and cash in case the company is unsuccessful in appealing a ruling that has found the company liable for antitrust violations. Apple also agreed to pay $50 million to lawyers.
The sum of $400 million is on top of Apple’s earlier settlements with five publishers, which gave $166 million for purchases of e-books.
In June Apple agreed to the settlement, ahead of the two month later trial in which consumers were expected to seek up to $840 million, according to attorneys general in 33 states and territories.
During the hearing on Friday, Judge Denise Cote said the case was an “unusually structured settlement, especially for one arrived at on the eve of trial.”
This deal allows the company to appeal the ruling by Cote in July 2013 that it has violated antitrust laws by conspiring with publishers to raise the prices of e-books and hamper rivals such as Amazon.
The agreement states that Apple has to pay $400 million to consumers and $50 to lawyers if the findings are held on appeal and not a single dollar if Apple wins its appeal. If the court overturns Cote and returns to her the case, maybe for a new trial, Apple would owe $20 million to lawyers and $50 million to consumers.
Cote said that despite the deal being unusual she understood why the plaintiffs decided to go with it because of tactics by Apple of delaying the case.
Spokesmen from Apple did not respond when asked to comment on the matter.
The publishers linked to the case are Penguin Group (USA), SCA’s Hachette Book Group Inc., CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc., Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan and News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers LLC.
Apple’s appeal is scheduled to be heard by a federal appeals court on December 15.