Appeals court nixes Apple bid to delay e-books damages trial

The petition sought emergency stay pending the resolution of an appeal concerning the case's class status.

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A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected Apple's latest bid to postpone an antitrust lawsuit seeking damages from the tech giant for allegedly conspiring with book publishers to fix e-book prices.

In a brief order, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals denied Apple's petition for an emergency stay of district court proceedings pending resolution of an appeal concerning the case's class status. The three-judge panel determined that an immediate appeal was "unwarranted," clearing the way for the attorneys general in 33 states to pursue hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from Apple.

The Justice Department sued Apple along with five of the six largest book publishers in the US in April 2012, accusing them of conspiring to set e-book prices and working together to break Amazon's hold on the market with its Kindle e-book reader. After a non-jury trial, US District Court Judge Denise concluded that Apple orchestrated a scheme with publishers to fix the prices of e-books. Apple is appealing that ruling.

The states had pursued liability alongside the Justice Department, but as the case proceeded into the damages phase, Apple sought dismissal contending that the states lacked standing to seek damages. In April, Cote rejected that argument as contradictory.

The case was granted class action status in March by Cote, who denied another Apple motion last month to stay the damages trial, saying that the trial had already been subjected to delay and should proceed as scheduled.

State attorneys general had sought $280 million in damages but asked in January that the amount be tripled because the US had already "conclusively proven" that Apple had orchestrated the conspiracy.

The damages portion of the trial is scheduled to begin July 14.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment and will update this report when we learn more.