Apple’s shrinking e-book antitrust settlement

July 17, 2014, 11:08 AM UTC

Court papers filed Wednesday answered the multi-million dollar question raised four weeks ago when Steve Berman, a lawyer representing e-book buying consumers, filed a letter in a New York federal court.

Berman’s letter was addressed to Denise Cote, the district judge who found Apple liable last year for conspiring to fix the prices of e-books. Berman said that Apple had struck a deal on damages, but didn’t say for how much.

The answer, it turns out, is somewhere between $450 million and $0.

Here’s how the negotiations went:

  • Plaintiffs (the states that sued Apple and consumers in the states that didn’t) let it be known that they were looking for damages of up to $840 million.
  • They settled, according to Wednesday’s filing, for $450 million — $50 million in attorneys fees, $400 million for e-book buyers.
  • That amount gets reduced to $70 million ($20 million for attorneys fees, $50 million for consumers, probably in the form of store credits) if the case is sent back to Judge Cote for reconsideration or retrial.
  • It goes to zero if Apple wins a reversal on appeal.


“This was the best deal we could get,” Berman told Reuters.

“We did nothing wrong,” Apple said, for the umteenth time, “and we believe a fair assessment of the facts will show it.”

The five publishers who were part of the original suit have already paid a total of $166 million to settle the charges filed against them.

See also: The Apple e-book trial: The view from the hard benches.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe (free!) via his RSS feed.