Judge in e-book antitrust case is unhappy Apple may pay just $70m

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U.S. District Judge Denise Cote says that it is “most troubling” that Apple could potentially be made to pay just $70 million in its antitrust case related to e-book price fixing.

Cote was speaking during a teleconference on Thursday regarding the long-running case claiming that Apple conspired with five publishers to fix e-book prices.

In the original ruling made by Judge Cote in April 2012, Apple was expected to pay $674 million after the plaintiffs reached settlements with the individual publishers.

Several appeals later and the size of Apple’s settlement now depends on the outcome of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If Apple loses this appeal, it will pay the sum of $400 million to consumers, and $50 million to the states and plaintiffs’ lawyers.

If Apple’s appeal is successful, although the 2nd Circuit returns the case to Cote for further proceedings or a new trial, Cupertino will pay just $70 million — the figure Judge Cote is disagreeing with.

If the 2nd Circuit reverses Cote outright and ends the case, on the other hand, Apple will pay nothing.

Cote’s concern relates to the fact that the middle scenario described would be unfair to consumers. She also notes that Apple is not required to pay interest on the sum while the appeals go forward.

Apple settled the case with 33 U.S. states last week for a maximum of $450 million. However, the settlement has yet to be finally ratified by Judge Cote, which means that its terms can still be modified.

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About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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