US Justice Department Reaches Settlement In E-Books Case

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By Kelly Burke for Intellectual Property Watch

The United States Department of Justice today announced it has reached a settlement with Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, which does business as Macmillan, for allegedly conspiring with Apple Inc. to raise e-book prices.

Under the proposed settlement agreement, 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, the Department said in a release. The agreement also will require that Macmillan provide advance notification to the Department of any e-book ventures it plans to undertake jointly with other publishers.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on 11 April 2012, named four other publishers – Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster – as conspiring with Apple to eliminate retail price competition.

Settlements with Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster were approved by the court in September 2012.  The public comment period on the Department’s settlement with Penguin will close on 5 March 2013.

The Department plans to continue litigation against Apple and the trial is scheduled to begin in June 2013.

The DOJ settlement documents are here [pdf] and here [pdf].

Chief of Staff and Counsel at the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division Jamillia Ferris remarks here.


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