Apple’s ebook settlement may not be quite so settled as judge expresses concern
Just as we thought Apple’s long-running ebooks suit might finally be settled, the out-of-court agreement has been thrown into doubt. The judge required to approve the settlement terms has expressed concern that they may be unfair to consumers, reports Business Insider.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan said she found “most troubling” a clause requiring Apple to pay only $70 million if an appeals court reversed her finding that the company is liable for antitrust violations and sent it back to her for further proceedings.
Apple was found guilty of price-fixing, an allegation it always denied and is currently appealing. To speed things up, lawyers on both sides agreed what would happen for each of the three possible outcomes of the appeal.
If Apple wins the appeal, it will pay nothing. If it loses the appeal, it will pay $50M in legal costs and $400M to a compensation fund for consumers. The contentious part is what happens if the appeals court overturns the original verdict but sends the case back for new proceedings. In this event, the proposal is that Apple would pay just $70M, of which the compensation fund would receive $50M.
Cote questioned if that would be fair and what might happen if the appeals court reversed her ruling on a minor issue.
This is not the first example of post-trial arguments, Apple having earlier called for the removal of the court-appointed antitrust monitor, a request rejected by the court.