Apple now a lone holdout in the e-book price fixing suit

By , Feb 8, 2013

iBookstore on white iPad (hand operating, small)

Last September, three of the nation’s top five book publishers settled with The United States Justice Department (DOJ) over alleged collusion in the pricing of e-books, despite Apple crying foul and accusing Amazon of assisting the government’s agenda. Following DOJ’s deal with HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette, Penguin followed suite in December 2012 and today DOJ announced that Macmillan has stricken a similar settlement with Uncle Sam, leaving Apple as a lone holdout in the suit…

DOJ explained in a media release posted on its web site Friday morning that it will “continue to litigate against Apple for conspiring with Macmillan and four of the other largest U.S. book publishers to raise e-book prices to consumers”.

DOJ’s announcement says Macmillan will immediately lift restrictions it has imposed on discounting and other promotions by e-book retailers and will be prohibited until December 2014 from entering into new agreements with similar restrictions.

Also for five years, Macmillan will be forbidden from agreeing to any kind of most favored nation (MFN) provision that could undermine the effectiveness of the settlement.

Once the court approves the settlement, Macmillan will be officially off the hook.

The court previously approved the settlement with Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster in September 2012 while the public comment period on the Penguin settlement will close on March 5, 2013.

The trial against Apple is scheduled to begin in June 2013.

ipad-ibooks

The European Union in December 2012 said Apple along with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan agreed to remove so-called “most-favored nation” clause which Apple had designed to prevent publishers who sell warez on its iBookstore to offer lower prices on competing stores.

By signing the agreement with EU regulators, Apple effectively dodged the bullet and avoided fines that could have topped an astounding $15 billion.

Apple and the four publishers agreed to suspend the “most-favored nation” contractual clause for five years.

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