Penguin settles ebook investigation in Europe

Published On 24/04/2013 | By Kim de Kock | Cartels, Consumer protection, Enforcement

The last standing publisher, Penguin, has reached a settlement agreement with the European Commission (EC) which ends the EC’s 16 month long investigation into the alleged price fixing of e-books in Europe.

As explained in our previous post, in mid-December 2012 the EC reached settlement agreements with Apple and four of the five publishers who were subject to the investigation into alleged price fixing conduct.  Having settled with Apple and each of Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, Penguin was the only remaining publisher still in discussions with the EC.

Penguin’s settlement, offered without admission of fault, is substantially similar to the settlements already reached between the EC and the other publishers and includes:

  • agreement to terminate the relevant agency arrangement with Apple;
  • for a period of five years, a restriction from entering into e-book agreements with retail-price restrictions or most favoured nation clauses; and
  • for a period of two years (and subject to certain conditions), allowing e-book retailers to set, alter or reduce the prices of their e-books, and offer discounts and other promotions on their e-books.

While this wraps up the investigations in Europe, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) continues to do battle with Apple in the United States.  As outlined in our previous post, the DoJ settled with the last of the publishers, Macmillan, on 8 February 2013.  The DoJ and Apple are due to go to trial in June 2013 in the US District Court in New York.

Photo credit: Johan Larsson / Foter.com / CC BY

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About The Author

is a Senior Associate in the Sydney office of King & Wood Mallesons where she specialises in anti-trust law, with a focus on mergers and acquisitions, access matters as well as general competition issues. Outside of the office, Kim has recently taken up surfing... but is probably not going to be appearing on the ASP tour any time soon.

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