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Apple to pay out customers $536m

Apple has been ordered to pay its customers $536. Picture: AFP/Gabrielle Lurie.

APPLE is preparing to pay out a total of $4536 million to huge numbers of ordinary people after it lost a long court battle over the price-fixing of ebooks.

The tech giant has been ordered to fork over the vast sum of money to Americans who bought books from Apple. Money will also be placed in the accounts of customers of Amazon, Kobo and Barnes Noble, reports The Sun.

In 2014, a US court ruled that Apple and several publishers had “conspired to restrain trade” and said, “Apple’s lawyers and its highest executives orchestrated a price-fixing scheme with blatant disregard for the requirements of the law”.

Apple tried to appeal, but its attempts were denied earlier this year and the US Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling that Apple had “conspired to raise the prices of electronic books”.

But you don’t have to worry about the firm’s bank balance because it’s got up to $US216 billion in cash sitting unused, which means it could fork over the settlement cash up to 540 times over without going into debt.

Hagens Berman, the law firm which brought a class action on behalf of bookworms, claimed the “anti-competitive price-fixing collusion between Apple and the publishers caused the price of ebooks to increase 30 to 50 per cent to $US12.99 or $US14.99 from Amazon’s $US9.99 price.”

“Apple illegally colluded with a group of five publishing companies to manipulate the ebook market by artificially raising the price of ebooks, lowering competition and charging consumers higher prices,” it wrote in a press release marking the beginning of the payout.

Readers will be given a $US6.93 credit for every ebook which became a New York Times bestseller and a $US1.57 credit for other titles.

This means book lovers will be paid twice the sum they actually lost, with lawyers hailing the settlement as “one of the most successful recovery of damages in any antitrust lawsuit in the country.”

In true Apple style, the payout mechanism is expected to be smooth, simple and elegant.

The settlement cash will be “sent directly into the accounts of consumers at major book retailers” or sent as cheques.

“To make this settlement effective and accessible for consumers, our team faced a sizeable undertaking that entailed almost constant contact with the retailers to make sure the credits will be applied to consumer accounts across the country,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman.

“This is the second round of distribution in the case, and we believe the only case in the country to have so much money returned directly to consumers.”

Anyone who bought books between April 1, 2011, and May 21, 2012, should expect to receive a little treat.

This article was originally published on The Sun and republished here with permission

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