Apple was dealt a legal blow Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court denied its request for an appeal in its ebook price-fixing fight.
The move finalizes the lower court decision that "Apple orchestrated a price-fixing conspiracy with five major ebook publishers and substantially raised ebook prices," the Justice Department said in a statement. Apple will now have to pay $450 million to settle the antitrust suit. The vast majority of that—$400 million—will go to ebook consumers. Apple will also need to pay $20 million to settle state cases, along with $30 million in legal fees.
"Apple's liability for knowingly conspiring with book publishers to raise the prices of ebooks is settled once and for all," Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division said in a statement. "And consumers will be made whole."
The Justice Department in 2012 sued Apple and five publishers—Macmillan, Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster—over an alleged "illegal conspiracy" involving ebook price fixing. State-level suits were filed at the same time.
While the publishers settled with the government, and have already paid out about $166 million in fines, Apple took its argument to court. It was found guilty in 2013, but appealed the decision. Apple in 2014 agreed to a $450 million settlement, but the final amount depended on the outcome of its appeal.
"With the $166 million previously paid by the conspiring publishers to settle claims against them, Apple's payment will bring to $566 million the amount repaid to ebook purchasers overcharged as a result of Apple's and the publishers' illegal conspiracy," the Justice Department said Monday.
Apple's collusion with the publishers caused the price of ebooks to increase 30 to 50 percent to $12.99 or $14.99 from Amazon's $9.99 price, according to Hagens Berman, which represented the class of ebook purchasers.
"Apple was caught red-handed orchestrating this scheme to inflate the prices of ebooks, and we believe this case is a true testament to the tangible benefits the law can bring consumers," attorney Steve Berman said in a statement.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.