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Apple may pay $400 million price-fixing settlement

Readers of books and other publications in Minnesota may receive money from a case ongoing in another state. That state's attorney general has announced that Apple Inc. will pay over $400 million to settle consumer claims that it conspired with publishers to set the prices for e-books. The settlement follows a July 2013 New York federal court ruling that the company conspired with five major publishers in the United States to maintain high e-book prices in light of competition and discount prices from Amazon.com.

The tech giant may have to pay $400 million to consumers to compensate them for paying illegally inflated e-book prices. It will also have to pay $20 million to 33 states as resolution for incurred costs and penalties. Five major American publishers have already paid $166 million to e-book purchasers, according to the New York Attorney General.

The settlement is contingent on ongoing litigation, however. Apple Co. has appealed the federal court's ruling that it violated antitrust laws. If its appeal is successful and the case has to be retried, Apple may still have to pay a reduced amount of $50 million. If a judge determines that there was no antitrust violation, Apple would be liable for no money.

Minnesota consumers may also be interested in another dispute between Hachette, which is one of the publishers who paid compensation to consumers, and Amazon over the pricing for e-books in new contracts. Hachette is the first of the five major publishers who are renegotiating terms for e-books since the 2013 ruling in the Apple antitrust case.

Antitrust litigation and allegations of unfair competition have huge consequences on the finances and public perception of companies. Advice and planning can help lower the potential for these commercial disputes and the losses to business.

Source: Forbes, "Apple to potentially pay more than $400 million in e-book price-fixing settlement," Ryan Mac, July 16, 2014

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