Earlier this month, Apple’s settlement agreement in its antitrust case was made public. Although nearly half the price the prosecuting judge was originally seeking, the settlement appeared to be reasonable as the Department of Justice agreed to it.
Last week, the ruling judge in the case, Denise Cote, publicly noted in a teleconference on the matter that she found some portions of the settlement “most troubling,” including the stipulation that Apple may only be required to pay $70 million if the appeals court reversed her findings.
During the teleconference, Judge Cote pointed out that the appeals court might reverse her ruling on a minor issue, something that isn’t uncommon in appeals cases. If that happened, Apple would not be required to pay the $450 million it agreed to in the settlement. She also disapproved of the fact that Apple is not required to make interest payments on the settlement amount while waiting for the appeals case to go through.
The settlement states that, if Apple loses the appeal, it would pay $400 million to consumers and $50 million to the states and plaintiffs’ lawyers. If the 2nd Circuit returns the case to Judge Cote for further proceedings or a new trial, Apple will only pay $70 million with $50 million going to consumers. If the appeals court reverses Cote outright, Apple pays nothing.
Lawyer for consumers Steve Berman previously commented that this was not an ideal settlement agreement, but was the “best deal we could get.” During the teleconference, Berman told Cote, “We thought given that unlikely scenario and the legal risk we would face it would be a good outcome for consumers.”Berman also stated, shortly after the settlement was reached, that he was confident that the appeals court would side with the plaintiffs and Apple would have to pay up.