E-Book Price-Fixing Case Against Apple Settled

     MANHATTAN (CN) - Avoiding a damages trial that could cost it hundreds of millions for e-book price-fixing, Apple settled claims from consumers and state attorneys general.
     The terms of that settlement were not disclosed in either the notice that appeared on the docket Monday afternoon or the subsequent order signed by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote.
     Apple had fought longest against several antitrust class actions against it and publishers Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Penguin, Hachette and HarperCollins.
     While the other publishers settled those claims for a total of $166 million, Apple went to a bench trial last year that ended with U.S. District Judge Denise Cote finding that it had played a central role in the price-fixing conspiracy.
     In preparing for a July damages trial, an expert for the plaintiffs put the figure at $280 million. That amount would have been tripled under antitrust law, their Seattle-based attorney Steve Berman explained.
     The 2nd Circuit made the future of that trial uncertain, however, when it advanced Apple's appeals of multiple Cote decisions. That court stopped class action notification and potentially postponed the trial.
     On Monday, the parties announced that they had reached a confidential settlement in advance of the appellate court's ruling.
     "As set forth in the memorandum of understanding, any payment to be made by Apple under the settlement agreement will be contingent on the outcome of that appeal," plaintiffs' attorney Berman wrote in a letter to the judge.
     Cote signed an attached order the same day halting class action notification and setting a schedule to move toward the settlement's approval.
     Berman declined to reveal any details of the settlement. Apple has not returned a request for comment.