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Apple Might Have To Pay More than $166 million in eBook Conspiracy Case

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Yesterday a US Judge found Apple guilty of conspiring with five publishers to fix the price of eBooks, and the company could face a bill as high as three-times $166 million, the amount paid by the publishers who settled with the DOJ.

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The court ruling handed down yesterday will mean symbolic changes to Apple’s eBook pricing practices, GigaOm says citing a lawyer, Jeff Friedman, a partner of Hagens Berman, the lead class-action firm in the case. It also opens up the door to the company’s bank account for cash damages that will be determined in a parallel lawsuit brought by state governments and class-action lawyers.

The five publishers were cautious enough to settle with the DOJ before the trial, so they ended up with bills of between $20 million and $75 million bringing the total to $166 million. The biggest amount will need to be paid out by Penguin, which — it’s no coincidence — fought the longest.

According to the lawyer cited by GigaOm, Apple’s liability will be calculated using the following formula: harm to consumers × 3, minus the $166 million paid by the publishers.

However, Apple’s first reaction after the ruling came as no surprise: it will appeal, so the judge will likely put the process determining the damages on hold. Yet according to Friedman, Apple’s chances are pretty slim, because the ruling is very specific: there are only a couple points left for Apple to attack.

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