Apple has offered to settle the row over ebook price fixing in Europe, but it’s still holding out in the US. According to reports, European Union competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia has said Apple and all the publishers, other than Penguin, have agreed to settle, at least in Europe.
While the Mac world has been caught up watching the spat between Apple and the US Department of Justice, regarding the antitrust charges filed against it, here in Europe, investigations have resulted in Apple offering to settle.
European Union antitrust regulators began their investigation of Apple and various publishers back in December 2011. That probe is targeting Apple’s deals with Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Macmillan. According to the European Commission (press release here) the investigation would examine whether the publishers were: “…with the help of Apple, engaged in anti-competitive practices affecting the sale of e-books in the European Economic Area, in breach of EU antitrust rules.”
“The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition in the EU or in the EEA,” the press release continues.
“The Commission is also examining the character and terms of the agency agreements entered into by the above named five publishers and retailers for the sale of ebooks. The Commission has concerns, that these practices may breach EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices,” stated the press release, issued on 6 December 2011.
Now European Union competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia has said he has received settlement offers from Apple and all the publishers other than Penguin, according to the Telegraph.
"[The publishers] are making proposals to reach an early resolution of the case," he said. The terms of the proposals were not disclosed. Penguin has said it will not settle either case out of court because it has "done nothing wrong", writes the Telegraph.
Britain’s Office of Fair Trading also investigated the “anti-competitive behaviour”. It opened an investigation into the Agency Model of ebook pricing in February, as the result of a “number of complaints received from the public”. However, it dropped its probe into ebooks when Brussels started it’s investigation.