Apple granted final approval for $450 million ebooks settlement despite judge’s concerns

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Following preliminary approval it received in August, Apple has been granted the final court approval it needed in its $450 million ebook settlement, according to a Reuters report.

During a hearing in Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote approved what she called an “unusual” accord. It calls for Apple to pay $400 million to as many as 23 million consumers if the company’s appeal of a ruling finding it liable for antitrust violations is unsuccessful.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote previously expressed concern over the proposed settlement citing a clause in the agreement that she called “most troubling”, but today called the settlement agreement “within the range of those that may be approved as fair and reasonable.” Read more

Apple settles out of jury trial in $840 million e-books pricing suit

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Apple settled out of court in the latest e-books price-fixing suit brought against the company, allowing the company to dodge an $840 million bullet, as reported by Bloomberg. The case, brought against the Cupertino company by multiple states and consumers, was set to go before a jury next month, but that will no longer be necessary.

The terms of the settlement have not yet been revealed, and the opposing sides of the case have one month to request formal acceptable of their agreement by the court.

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Apple’s request to remove court-appointed ebooks antitrust monitor rejected

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A motion by Apple to halt the operations of a court-appointed antitrust monitor has been rejected, the Wall Street Journal reports. The lawyer, Michael Bromwich, was appointed by the court to ensure the compliance Apple’s iBook platform with antitrust laws. Apple previously petitioned the court to have Bromwich removed from his post, believing that his $1,100/hour legal fees were leading him to take undue investigative steps solely for the purpose of overcharging the Cupertino company.

Bromwich was temporarily taken off of Apple’s case, but subsequently returned to continue his duties. Apple then accused Bromwich of going beyond his legal authority and requested once again that he be removed from the company’s case. Today the court ruled that Apple’s request would have resulted in Bromwich being unable to execute his legal duties, and thus rejected the injunction.

The full ruling is embedded below:

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DOJ responds to Apple’s request to replace attorney in ebooks case (Update: Court denies Apple’s request, too)

Following Apple’s formal request last week that Michael Bromwich be removed from his role in ensuring the Cupertino company meets compliances set by the anti-trust ruling in last year’s ebooks trial, the Department of Justice has pushed back (via GigaOm) with a denial letter accusing Apple of ‘character assassination’.

Regrettably, it is now clear that Apple has chosen a campaign of character assassination over a culture of compliance. Apple could have been spending the past months working with the External Compliance Monitor with the ultimate goal of reforming its policies and training, and in the process change its corporate tone to one that reflects a commitment to abiding by the requirements of the antitrust laws. Instead, Apple has focused on personally attacking Mr. Bromwich, and thwarting him from performing even the most basic of his court-ordered functions. Read more

Apple asks court to remove ebooks compliance monitor from his post

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After earlier complaining that the company was being overcharged by the court-appointed lawyer overseeing its compliance with the terms of the ebooks anti-trust ruling, Apple has now brought matters to a head by asking for Michael Bromwich to be removed from the role, reports Reuters.

An attorney for the consumer technology giant on Tuesday asked U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan to disqualify Michael Bromwich from serving as an external compliance monitor, arguing he had shown a personal bias against the company.

In a letter to Cote, Apple’s lawyer cited a “wholly inappropriate declaration” filed by Bromwich last month …  Read more

US DOJ/States wins e-book pricing case against Apple, damages to follow

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Update: Apple provided a comment to AllThingsD and confirmed it will appeal the decision:

“Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations. When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We’ve done nothing wrong and we will appeal the judge’s decision.”

Reuters reports that a judge just ruled that Apple conspired to raise the retail prices of e-books and said a trial for damages will soon follow:

The decision by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote[pictured, right] in Manhattan is a victory for the U.S. government and various states, which the judge said are entitled to injunctive relief. The publishers have already settled with the federal government on e-book pricing. Cote ruled after a non-jury trial that ended on June 20.

Apple warned that a guilty verdict in its e-book price-fixing case could have a negative impact on how digital media deals are negotiated in the US and Apple CEO Tim Cook even called the suit ‘bizarre’:

The e-book case to me is bizarre. We’ve done nothing wrong there, and so we’re taking a very principled position. … We’re not going to sign something that says we did something we didn’t do. … So we’re going to fight.

The DOJ had argued that Apple had conspired to raise prices with all of the publishers and hurt rival Amazon.

Interestingly, according to the NYTimes, one of the most damning pieces of evidence in the government’s case is the video below of Steve Jobs talking with Walt Mossberg. Per Daring Fireball: Mossberg asks Jobs why someone would buy a book for $14.99 from the iBookstore when they could buy the same book from Amazon for $9.99.

Jobs: Well, that won’t be the case.

Mossberg: Meaning you won’t be $14.99, or they won’t be $9.99?

Jobs (smiling): The prices will be the same.

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Apple eBook price-fixing lawsuits hit Canada following DOJ suit

Following an investigation into alleged eBook price-fixing, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and publishers Macmillan and Penguin earlier this month, who refused to settle. Other publishers, including Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster, settled and reached an agreement to return Amazon to its previous wholesale model and dismantle Apple’s agency model. The settlement also included agreements with select states that would see $51 million in restitution paid to those who purchased eBooks through Apple’s platform. Now, several Canadian publications are reporting class-action lawsuits were filed against Apple and the five publishers throughout Canada.

Lawyer Normand Painchaud spoke with The Montreal Gazette about his class-action suit filed in Quebec Superior Court and talked about two others filed in Ontario and British Columbia:

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