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Court upholds $450M settlement in Apple's e-books case, but Supreme Court appeal still awaits

Apple's $450 million settlement in its iBooks antitrust complaint was upheld by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, but the payout remains dependent on a pending appeal to the Supreme Court.

Summation

Apple's closing slide in its e-book antitrust case. | Source: U.S. District Court


Oklahoma resident John Bradley had appealed the $450 million agreement, questioning the "fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy" of the settlement. But in the decision handed down by the federal appeals court, Apple's conditional settlement was upheld.

Apple will pay $450 million to reimburse consumers and cover legal fees if the original ruling is upheld. But if a retrial is ordered, Apple will pay just $70 million, and nothing at all if the decision is overturned, as noted by Reuters.

Apple asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the antitrust e-book verdict last October. The initial verdict was handed down by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in 2013, who sided with the Justice Department and found that Apple conspired with publishers to artificially inflate e-book prices.

In Wednesday's decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court quoted a lower District Court, which called Bradley a "professional objector." The court said the appeal was not made by someone who has "a stake in the enterprise in a way that a class member would."

For the launch of the iBookstore, Apple and book publishers opted to switch to a so-called "agency" pricing model, that allowed publishers to control the prices of books and prevented resellers like Amazon from undercutting those rates. The subsequent increase in e-book prices led the government to take action.

Since then, the agency has switched back to the "wholesale model" preferred by Amazon, which allows resellers to set prices, and sell titles at or below costs if they so choose.

The full decision from Wednesday is included below: