What began life as a class action lawsuit filed by Seattle-based law firm Hagen Bermans on behalf of consumers quickly became a Department of Justice investigation against Apple and five of the Big Six publishers. The investigation was to determine whether or not those involved had acted illegally when they instituted an “agency pricing” model for ebook sales to retailers. Abroad, several other international entities also began their own investigations into claims that Apple and the publishers made an illegal closed-door agreement to arrange the pricing on ebooks specifically in order to edge out Amazon.
Now, thanks to that investigation, the original class action suit which sought to return some of the $250 million that some estimates claim consumers overpaid may fall by the wayside as three of the publishers involved are working to reach a settlement with all fifty individual state governments. If a settlement is reached with the state governments that would trump the class action suit, by order of the judge on the federal court case, Justice Deborah Cote.
Hagen Bermans is planning to continue the suit against two of the publishers, Macmillan and Penguin Group, as those two are holding out in the case and refusing to settle, as is Apple. It is still estimated that even in the settlements the publishers will pay compensation amounting in the millions, but it would mean that there would be no jury trial which could result in a larger payout.