BALTIMORE (June 20, 2016)—Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced today that thousands of Maryland consumers who bought e-books will share approximately $9 million in credits and checks from Apple, Inc. this week. The credits come as a result of the successful conclusion of a price-fixing case against Apple, Inc. Apple paid $400 million into a consumer fund for nationwide distribution after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Apple's request for review of lower courts' findings. Maryland and 32 other states and territories had filed suit against Apple and five major e-book publishers (Harper Collins, Hachette, Penguin, Simon & Schuster and MacMillan), charging the companies with conspiring to artificially raise prices.
"When companies conspire to thwart competition, consumers lose money," said Attorney General Frosh. "I'm gratified that we were able to halt these exploitative practices and get consumers some relief."
The amount of each consumer's credit or check is based on the number of books a consumer purchased between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012, the time when the alleged price-fixing occurred. The New York Times bestseller e-books are credited at $6.93 per book, while other books are credited at $1.57 each. Credits can be used for a year to purchase e-books or anything else the retailer sells.
Customers of Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo will receive credits unless they previously requested a check. These customers should receive an email by June 24 confirming the credit in their account. Apple customers will receive an email from "e-books Settlement Administrator ( firstname.lastname@example.org )" for their credit confirmation, with the subject line: "E-books Settlement Credit." Eligible Sony customers will automatically receive a check in the mail while eligible Google customers will only receive a check if they have already filed a claim.
In June 2013, Maryland, the Department of Justice and 32 other states tried the price-fixing case against Apple in federal court in the Southern District of New York. Following the trial, Judge Denise Cote ruled that Apple conspired with U.S. publishers to raise the retail prices of e-books. In June, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed that ruling. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review, triggering Apple's obligation to pay the maximum, $400 million, under a contingent settlement with the states.
Maryland and the other states had previously settled with the e-book publishers for $166 million. That settlement was distributed via checks and credits in March of 2014. Apple's payment this week brings the total amount repaid to consumers nationwide to $566 million, more than twice the estimated amount of actual damages.
For more information, consumers may visit the website set up by Settlement Administrator at
www.ebooklawsuits.com or call (866) 686-9333 toll-free.