Earlier this month a federal judge ruled that Apple was guilty of violating US antitrust law by “playing a central role” in a “conspiracy” to artificially and illegally raise the price of ebooks to harm competitors and consumers. Now it looks like Cupertino might be on the hook for as much as $500 million in fines
Tech news site, GigaOm released a chart of damages paid be the other plaintiffs in the case, several major publishing houses. Extrapolating from the data, GigaOm and others contend that Apple’s looking at around $500 million. Apple just announced $6.9 billion in profits for its last quarter, so $500 mil isn’t such a huge blow for them (speaking relatively). But it’s a tremendous payment.
The report also offered some analysis from some legal experts, backing up the contention that Apple could be on the hook for a half billion. The full chart is below as well.
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.”