Class Notices Put on Ice in Apple Antitrust Case

     MANHATTAN (CN) - Consumers who paid too much for ebooks because of Apple's price-fixing scheme with five publishers will get notices until the company tries to decertify their class, the 2nd Circuit ruled Friday.
     The development spells further delay in litigation that began three years ago with the first of several antitrust class actions against Apple and publishers Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Penguin, Hachette and HarperCollins.
     The proceedings coincided with separate antitrust lawsuits by the Department of Justice and a slew of states and U.S. territories that accused Apple and the same five publishers of colluding to fix ebook prices.
     The publishers settled those claims for a total of $166 million. Ebook customers have begun to receive account credits from those settlements, Amazon says in an FAQ section on its website. (Amazon was not a party to the lawsuits.)
     Amazon says customers will receive $3.17 for each New York Times bestseller bought between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012, and 73 cents for other ebooks. Minnesota customers will receive slightly more per ebook because their settlement was negotiated separately.
     U.S. District Judge Denise Cote presided over the case of the lone holdout, Apple, which she found had played a central role in orchestrating the price-fixing conspiracy following a bench trial last year.
     Cote granted class-action status to the plaintiffs last month, and Apple sought to delay trial this summer until it exhausted its appeal.
     Rejecting that bid Thursday, Cote wrote: "Delaying the trial would also delay any recovery due plaintiffs, should they prevail. Apple argues that class members have already been partially compensated by the Publisher Defendants' settlements, but class members have a strong interest in being fully compensated for any losses they have suffered. Likewise, the public interest favors a speedy trial and resolution of this matter."
     With class-action notification set to hit the mail on Monday, the 2nd Circuit posted an order Friday afternoon calling off the postman and tasking a three-judge panel with deciding whether to postpone the trial and decertify the class.
     Attorneys did not immediately comment on the development after business hours.