Apple may refund $400M in settlement

SAN FRANCISCO – Apple will refund up to $400 million to consumers ensnared in a plot to raise the prices of digital books unless the company gets a court to overturn a decision affirming its pivotal role in the collusion.

The settlement bill emerged in a court filing made a month after attorneys suing Apple notified U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in New York that an agreement had been reached to avoid a trial over the issue. Lawsuits filed on behalf of digital book buyers had originally been seeking damages of up to $840 million after Cote ruled in a separate trial last year that Apple Inc. had violated U.S. antitrust law by orchestrating a price-fixing scheme with five major publishers of electronic books. Cote’s decision sided with the U.S. Justice Department’s contention that Apple’s late CEO, Steve Jobs, had schemed with major e-book publishers to charge higher prices in response to steep discounts offered by Amazon.