Apple could pay nearly $500 million in ebook case

apple-legal

Apple could get smacked with a $500 million bill from the states and class action lawyers in the ebook pricing suit, based on the amounts that the settling publishers have already paid out.

Earlier this month, federal judge Denise Cote found Apple guilty of colluding with five publishers to fix ebook prices at the launch of the iBookstore. The five publishers named in the case — Hachette, Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster — have already settled and paid damages to the states and in the class action suit. In a document that the court made public Tuesday, the Texas attorney general provided Judge Cote with a chart showing the amounts that the states have agreed to pay. The red markup is by me:

apple trial publisher damages

The chart shows that the publishers have paid out over $166 million so far. Earlier this month, a lawyer from Hagens Berman — the class action firm in the case — told my colleague Jeff Roberts that Apple would likely face a liability payment of harm to consumers times three, minus the $166 million already paid out by publishers. On Wednesday, Law360 reported (paywall) the same thing, calculating that if Apple loses its appeal it would face about $490 million in damages. I annotated the chart above with those figures.

Referring to the chart above, NYU law professor Harry First told Law360, “Just looking at the percentages straight, the plaintiffs at least appear to have some sort of good strategy in terms of settlements, so the later settlements don’t get as good a deal. That means Apple’s in for more of a jolt.”

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