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Apple settles state AGs' e-book antitrust lawsuit

The settlement comes less than a month before the scheduled beginning of the trial, in which $840 million in damages was sought from Apple.


Apple has agreed to settle an antitrust lawsuit that sought hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for conspiring with book publishers to fix e-book prices.

The class-action lawsuit's resolution was revealed Monday in a brief court filing by US District Judge Denise Cote that ordered Apple and the attorneys general in 33 states that filed the lawsuit to submit a copy of the settlement agreement to the court within a month. Terms of the agreement were not revealed in the filing.

The damages lawsuit, which was scheduled to begin July 14, was connected to a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department in April 2012 that accused Apple and five of the largest US book publishers 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, Cote concluded that Apple orchestrated a scheme with publishers to fix the prices of e-books. Apple is appealing that ruling.

The state attorneys general had sought $280 million in damages but asked in January that the amount be tripled to $840 million, because the US had already "conclusively proven" that Apple had orchestrated the conspiracy. As the case proceeded into the damages phase, Apple sought dismissal of the attorneys general case, contending that the states lacked standing to seek damages against Apple.

After Cote denied that motion in April, a federal appeals court in May denied Apple's petition for an emergency stay of district court proceedings pending resolution of an appeal concerning the case's class status.

Noting Apple's appeal of the US District Court's ruling, a letter sent to Cote by plaintiff's attorney Steve Berman indicated that "any payment to be made by Apple under the settlement agreement will be contingent on the outcome of that appeal."

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

Apple e-books settlement order