updated 07:58 pm EST, Tue December 18, 2012
If settlement approved, only Macmillan and Apple left standing
The United States Department of Justice confirmed today that the Penguin group has made a settlement offer in New York District Court to end its ongoing e-book price-fixing antitrust investigation. If accepted by the Department of Justice and the judge, only Apple and Macmillan will remain as defendants in the suit. Under the agreement's terms, Penguin must cease doing business with any e-book seller it is currently doing business with, including Apple. The publisher will also be prohibited from signing new deals with any distributors that limit discounts for a period of two years.
Chief of Staff and Department of Justice Antitrust Division Counsel Jamillia Ferris claims that "since the department's settlement with Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, consumers are already paying lower prices for the e-book versions of many of those publishers' new releases and bestsellers. If approved by the court, the proposed settlement with Penguin will be an important step toward undoing the harm caused by the publishers' anti-competitive conduct and restoring retail price competition so consumers can pay lower prices for Penguin's e-books."
Only Apple, Penguin, and Macmillan remain in the Department of Justice suit, as the other named defendants (Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette) have settled. Apple and Macmillan claim no wrongdoing in the case. Apple considers the suit "fundamentally flawed" and argues that the suit will harm consumers and return the e-book monopoly to Amazon. Apple has pointed out in the past that Amazon has had to cease "predatory pricing" and still has 60 percent of the nascent market, forcing it to complete more fairly than its previous 90 percent marketshare. The Department of Justice intends on continuing litigation against Apple and Macmillan claiming that the pair was "conspiring to raise e-book prices to consumers."