Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that Ohio consumers will begin receiving account credits or checks this week in settlement funds from a 2012 e-books price-fixing lawsuit.
The lawsuit was brought by Attorney General DeWine and attorneys general from 32 other states against Apple, Inc. and five of the six largest e-book publishers in the country for conspiring to fix the price of e-books. Those e-book publishers — Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster Inc., Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, d/b/a Macmillan, and Penguin Group (USA) Inc. — settled the claims against them for a total nationwide payment of $166 million, of which approximately $4.7 million will be distributed to Ohio consumers. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York approved those settlements on December 6, 2013.
“Ohioans should be able to purchase goods in a fair, competitive marketplace free from illegal price-fixing. I’m glad consumers who purchased these e-books are able to recoup the overcharges they paid,” DeWine said.
Ohio consumers will receive either an account credit or check based on the number of eligible e-books they purchased during the claims period of April 1, 2010, to May 21, 2012. Eligible consumers should watch their email for communications from their e-book retailer, or from the Settlement Administrator regarding account credits or checks. For more information on the settlements, individuals may call 866-621-4153 or visit www.ebookagsettlements.com.
Apple, Inc. declined to settle the claims against it, and a three-week trial was conducted in June of 2013. Following the trial, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote found that the company played a central role in facilitating and executing a conspiracy to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, in violation of federal and state antitrust laws. A second trial to determine the amount of damages Apple must pay for that violation will follow. If successful, additional account credits or checks may be distributed to Ohio consumers in the future.