Apple conditionally agrees to $450 million settlement in e-book price fixing suit

Apple Announces Digital Textbooks Service At Guggenheim

Apple's ongoing e-book antitrust saga has been nothing short of a headache. Accused of colluding with publishers to artificially raise the price of e-books, Apple had the opportunity to settle the matter early on and avoid a trial altogether. But as Tim Cook explained, Apple felt it did nothing wrong and wasn't going to cop to something it didn't do. For Apple, it was a matter of principle.

And now that principled stance looks like it's going to cost Apple to the tune of almost half a billion dollars. Reuters reports that Apple yesterday agreed to pay a cool $450 million to consumers and States in order to settle class action charges stemming from alleged price fixing. That's a lot of dough, but still decidedly less than the $840 million plaintiffs were seeking.

The hefty payout, however, is contingent upon the outcome of Apple's current appeal.

The settlement, which would provide $400 million for consumers, is conditioned 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.

A ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversing the judge could, under the settlement, [would] either reduce the amount Apple pays to $70 million, with $50 million for consumers, or eliminate payments altogether.

Apple's statement regarding its potential payout reads as follows:

Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing, and we will continue to fight those allegations on appeal. We did nothing wrong and we believe a fair assessment of the facts will show it. The iBooks Store has been good for consumers and the publishing industry as a whole, from well-known authors to first-time novelists. As we wait for the court to hear our appeal, we have agreed to a settlement which is contingent on the outcome of the appeal. If we are vindicated by the appeals court, no settlement will be paid.

Of course, Apple certainly has money to spare (and then some), but one can only imagine that they'd like to put this whole e-book price fixing scandal behind them once and for all. Recall that Apple's trial with the DOJ last year resulted in Judge Denise Cote assigning Apple an external monitor who Apple quickly accused of overstepping his bounds and charging exorbitant fees.