Fruity cargo cult Apple has agreed to write a check for millions for a crime it cannot admit it did, despite being found guilty by one Judge. Apple has agreed to pay $450 million to resolve US state and consumer charges that it conspired with five major publishers to fix e-book prices. Under the deal Apple would have to give $400 million back to consumers but this is conditional on the outcome of a pending appeal of a New York federal judge's ruling last year that Apple was liable for violating antitrust laws.
The Tame Apple press is doing its best to put a positive spin on the story. Reuters said that a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversing the judge could, under the settlement, either reduce the amount Apple pays to $70 million, with $50 million for consumers, or eliminate payments altogether. That is if the Court of Appeals ignores any evidence presented to the first trial that showed that Apple’s Steve Jobs was the ringleader of the cartel. In July 2013, Cote found Apple liable for colluding with the publishers to impede e-book competitors such as Amazon.com after a non-jury trial.
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said it would be better to come to deal with Apple because it cannot predict the outcome of the appeal with certainty. Steve Berman, a lawyer for the consumer class at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, said if there is an "outright reversal, then we are done." But he said he believed the 2nd Circuit would uphold Cote's ruling.
Apple in a statement denied that it had conspired to fix e-book prices and said it would continue pressing its case on appeal. Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman is insisting that Apple did nothing wrong and that a fair assessment of the facts will show it.
The $450 million figure, though high, is less than half what attorneys general in 33 states and territories and lawyers for a class of consumers were expected to seek in a damages trial. The publishers had to pay $166 million each for their involvement. The publishers include Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group (USA), CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH's Macmillan.