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Penguin offers to throw out Apple ebook deal to end European antitrust probe

Has had enough
Fri Apr 19 2013, 14:55
Penguin books logo

BOOK PUBLISHER Penguin has offered to throw out its ebook deal with Apple in a bid to end an ongoing antitrust investigation by the European Commission (EC).

Apple and Penguin have been at the forefront of the EC antitrust investigation for 16 months, following allegations that the companies conspired to fix ebook prices anticompetitively. This apparently has been going on to stop Amazon from dominating the ebook market and to give the iPad a chance to compete.

Seemingly fed up with the ongoing probe, Penguin has proposed an offer to the European Commission that could put an end to the case. The book publisher has proposed to terminate its five-year deal with Apple that prevents rival retailers from selling ebooks cheaper than the iPhone maker.

If the proposal gets the nod retailers will be allowed to set prices or discounts for a period of two years, and it could see Penguin and Apple avoiding fines.

Before the EU can accept the offer however, it will undergo "market testing", which means that Penguin's proposal will be sent to third parties and rivals.

The European Commission said in a statement, "If the market test confirms that Penguin's commitments are suitable to address the Commission's competition concerns, the Commission may make them legally binding on Penguin."

It added that Penguin's proposals were "substantially the same" as those proposed previously by Simon & Schuster, Harpercollins, Hachette and Macmillan.

If the offer is accepted by the European Commission, Penguin will become the fifth publisher to settle with regulators.

Apple said it had no comment. µ


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