After more than a year of squabbling with the European Commission in an anti-trust case involving Apple’s deals with five publishers that regulators called a conspiracy to fix the price of e-books, the last holdout might be close to settling up. Penguin has offered to ditch its e-book deal with Apple to end the antitrust probe.
It all started when U.S. and European regulators accused Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Penguin of conspiring in secret agreements to raise the price of e-books. Apple and the other publishers have already made amends with the EU’s commission, and Penguin itself settled with the Department of Justice in the U.S. last December.
Penguin was still fighting price-fixing allegations in Europe, but it seems it’s tired of duking it out. And also, it wants to merge with Random House. It issued a statement saying that it thinks it had done “nothing wrong,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
The commission said that Penguin’s offer is “substantially the same” as the deal struck last year with the other four publishers, and will let Penguin close things up without paying a fine. According to the deal, Penguin will set up new retail sales agreements and won’t be able to use special contracts that ban retailers from undercutting Apple’s e-book prices for at least five years. Healthy competition, y’all.
Next the offer will have to be sent to third parties and its rivals for a reaction, before the commission decides everything in the next month.
Penguin Makes Bid to Settle E-Book Case With EU [Wall Street Journal]