U.S. District Judge Denise Cote granted a preliminary approval for Apple’s $450 million ebooks case settlement. Cote said:
“There is probable cause to find that the proposed settlement agreement is within the range of those that may be approved as fair and reasonable.”
The final sum distributed to consumers will depend on the outcome of Apple’s appeal. If the original verdict stands, $400 million will go back to customers and $50 million will go directly into lawyers’ pockets. However, if Apple wins on appear, the company will not have to pay customers anything.
In the more unlikely scenario that the appeals court overturns Cote’s verdict, Apple will have to pay customers $50 million and the lawyers will still earn $20 million.
Judge Cote was originally concerned about the last possibility, however she now seems more confident that the appeals court will agree with her finding that Apple and publishers violated antitrust laws.
The judge ruled last year in a case filed by the U.S. Justice Department that Apple conspired with five of the biggest publishers to fix e-book prices in response to competition from Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) The parties announced the settlement in June, weeks before a damages trial in which Apple would have faced claims of as much as $674 million, according to Cote.
The fairness hearing is set for November 21, where Cote is set to give her final approval to the agreement.