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Apple's $450 million ebooks antitrust settlement approved by judge

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Apple's $450 million ebooks case settlement received preliminary approval from US District Judge Denise Cote today, though the ultimate sum distributed to consumers will hinge on the outcome of Apple's appeal. If the original verdict is upheld, $400 million will go to consumers that were "harmed" by the price-fixing scheme between Apple and book publishers, with $50 million directed to lawyers' pockets. If Apple somehow pulls an upset and wins on appeal, the company won't have to pay anything. And then there's a third scenario: the appeals court could overturn Cote's verdict and kick the case back down to her for another go. Should that play out, Apple will pay consumers $50 million, with lawyers still earning a healthy $20 million payday.

Cote, who was originally concerned about this possibility, now seems more confident that the appeals court will affirm her finding that Apple and publishers violated antitrust laws. Apple, by contrast, still refuses to admit any wrongdoing. "We did nothing wrong and we believe a fair assessment of the facts will show it," the company said last month when the settlement was made public. "If we are vindicated by the appeals court, no settlement will be paid."