Alabama e-book buyers to share $400 million Apple price-fixing settlement

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Alabamians who bought e-books from 2010 to 2012 will soon get a piece of the multimillion-dollar settlement with Apple Inc. 

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced Tuesday that the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from Apple to review a lower court ruling, which found the tech company liable for its role in raising the price of electronic books.

Apple is purported to have conspired with “five major publishers” to increase book rates and the ruling will set into motion a repayment of $400 million to consumers who paid “artificially inflated price for E-books.”

“This court action means that Apple will be held accountable for its price-fixing actions, and that consumers who were damaged will receive compensation for their losses,” Strange said in a news release. “This should send a message throughout the nation that such schemes will not be tolerated.”

Others involved in the case include Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (now Penguin Random House), Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC and Simon & Schuster Inc. 

Alabama joined with more than 30 other states in investigating and prosecuting the antitrust case, alongside the Department of Justice. The original ruling against Apple came in July 2013 from the U.S. District for the Southern District of New York. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld the ruling in June 2015, and the decision by the Supreme Court eliminates any other path forward for Apple.

The five publishers settled before the start of the trial, paying about $166 million to consumers, but because the states’ settlement with Apple was contingent on the trial’s outcome, the tech giant will not face the maximum penalty. Along with the $400 million, Apple will be forced to pay an additional $20 million to reimburse states for fees and costs, as well as to resolve claims for civil penalties.

Details on how consumers will be reimbursed will be released once finalized.

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