Wisconsin Residents Poised to Receive Refunds From E-Book Lawsuit

March 25, 2014

E-book buyers in Wisconsin could begin receiving account credits or checks this week as part of a partial settlement reached in a price-fixing lawsuit with publishers, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says. The E-book price-fixing lawsuit was brought by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the offices of Attorneys General in 32 other states.

The antitrust case was filed against Apple, Inc. and five E-book publishers including Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers, LLC, Simon & Schuster, Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, and Penguin Group (USA) Inc. The settlement was for nationwide payment of $166 million. Wisconsinites are expected to be credited about $3 million.

“An account credit or check will be based on the number of eligible E-books purchased by a consumer during the claims period (April 1, 2010 to May 21, 2012). Whether a consumer receives a credit or check depends on the retailer through which the E-book was purchased and, in certain circumstances, whether a claim was properly filed or on whether a consumer specifically requested a check,” Van Hollen said in a news release Tuesday.

Eligible consumers should review their e-mail for communications from their E-book retailer, or from the Settlement Administrator, about account credits or checks. For more settlement information, consumers should visit ebookagsettlements.com

Apple declined to join the settlement involving the publishers and was convicted in a three-week trial in June, 2013. In her decision, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, of the Southern District of New York, concluded that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing the conspiracy to drop retail price competition in hopes of raising E-book prices, violating state and federal antitrust laws.

A second trial to decide the amount of damages Apple should pay is scheduled for later this year.

“Consumers are entitled to a fair, open and competitive marketplace,” Van Hollen said. “When a company is found to have violated the antitrust laws, as Apple did here, consumers who have suffered as a consequence of that violation are entitled to compensation.”