US District Judge Denise Cote on Friday gave preliminary approval to Apple's proposed $450 million settlement in the ebooks price-fixing class action lawsuit. The settlement, which hinges on the outcome of Apple's appeal of the original antitrust ruling, would see the company paying $400 million to affected customers and $50 million in attorneys fees.
The decision comes just a week after Cote expressed concerns over the settlement, arguing that its terms could drastically reduce money paid to the consumers depending on appeals.
According to the settlement terms, the total amount would come down to $70 million, with $50 million of that going back to consumers, in case the court of appeals reverses and remands the case back to district court. And if Apple is successful in its appeal, it will not have to pay a single penny. Cote had questioned what would happen if her ruling was reversed on a minor issue.
But, in an apparent change of tune on Friday, she said, "The proposed settlement agreement is within the range of those that may be approved as fair and reasonable, such that notice to the class is appropriate. Preliminary approval is granted".
The original complaint was filed by the Department of Justice in April 2012, accusing Apple and five big publishers of conspiring to increase e-book prices and break Amazon's hold on pricing. In July last year, after a nonjury trial, Cote concluded that Apple was guilty of the charges pressed against it.
Although the Cupertino-based company is already appealing that ruling, last month, it agreed to settle a related lawsuit filed on behalf of consumers and 33 US states. A final fairness hearing is now set for November 21.