Arias Ozzello & Gignac LLP

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Penguin/Macmillan E-Book Class Action Settlement Wins Preliminary Approval

Last week a New York federal judge granted a preliminary approval on 2 class action settlements worth $115 million.  The granting of these class action settlements will resolve the e-book price-fixing claims against Penguin Group USA Inc. and Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

In the initial class action lawsuit, 33 state attorneys general and private consumers accused Penguin and Macmillan of conspiring with other publishing companies and Apple Inc. to manipulate e-book prices, forcing consumers to pay an artificially inflated price in violation of antitrust laws. This alleged conspiracy was uncovered by the U.S. Department of Justice. The other publishing companies include Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster. 


Most of the money from the class action settlement will be awarded to the class of consumers from 33 states that purchased e-books from the companies between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2010. Under these agreements, Penguin has agreed to pay the consumer class $75 million  and Macmillan has agreed to pay $20 million. The rest of the class action settlement money will be used to pay attorneys’ fees and costs for the class members and state government.

Apple is the only of the listed defendants in the class action lawsuit who opted to go to trial. Last month, Judge Cote ruled that Apple conspired with other publishing companies to raise the prices of e-books from $9.99 to as much as $14.99. These inflated prices cost customers hundreds of millions of dollars. Apple intends to appeal Judge Cote’s decision. 

Apple sues Samsung over patent infringement

In what seems to be the biggest headline grabbing lawsuit in the mobile device world today, the patent-infringement battle between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics has quickly picked up pace as they begin trial this week.

Apple Inc. argues that Samsung has breached several patents related to its iconic design and user software. In an opening statement, Apple attorney Elhinny stated that, “it’s easier to copy than to innovate.” Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Tab 10.1, both unveiled in 2011, drew stark resemblance to the “ornamental design” of Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad devices. Furthermore, the Galaxy devices function similar to that of the iPhone with the “rubberbanding”, “slide to unlock” and “tap to zoom” capabilities. An injunction was placed this June by Judge Koh on the sale of Galaxy Nexus and Tab 10.1 but Samsung has made its way to appeal it.

The South Korean titan bites back, countersuing Apple for infringing its patent on the 3g data technology. Samsung attorneys also denounce the aesthetics of the iPhone and iPad as novel. New evidence shows that Sony had acquired the idea of a slab-like touchscreen phone long before Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. Unfortunately, these findings were denied in court. Samsung’s attorneys have since then questioned the impartiality of Judge Koh.

The stakes are nonetheless high for both companies and it may affect the consumer electronics industry as a whole. Apple is seeking up to $2.5 billion dollars for damages while Samsung is expecting to reap 2.4% in royalties for each device sold.

Class Action Suit Against Apple on Behalf of iPod Customers Will Proceed

A federal court in the Northern District of California recently ruled that a class-action suit filed against Apple on behalf of consumers who purchased an iPod between September 2006 and March 2009 may proceed as a class action. The suit, brought by three individuals who purchased iPods during the time period, alleges that software updates issued by Apple in 2006 for the iPod device violated federal and state laws by preventing the music players from playing songs not purchased on iTunes, thereby mandating iPod owners become iTunes customers and, in effect, increasing the price of iPod ownership. The suit, known as In re Apple iPod iTunes Antitrust Litigation, applies to certain models of the iPod produced between 2006 and 2009.

For its part, Apple denies any wrongdoing and insists its software updates improve its products and the user’s experience without affecting cost.

For more information on this suit, including a list of qualifying iPod models, please visit

Apple's Siri Faces Another Class Action Lawsuit

The LA Times reports that Apple is facing another class action law suit – the second one this month – for claims related to Siri, the “intelligent assistant” feature on the iPhone 4S. The complaint, filed by David Jones in a U.S. District Court in California, is similar to one filed against Apple two weeks ago in New York, and alleges that Apple oversells Siri’s performance capabilities in its zealous advertising campaigns and television commercials. The lawsuit seeks financial "relief and damages" for not only for Jones, who purchased an iPhone 4S in December, but also for other iPhone 4S owners.

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