Publishing firm Penguin has settled charges of price fixing with the European Union in a case that will involve Apple.
Penguin said it would agree to similar terms as other publishers to settle charges of price fixing. Penguin is among a group of firms accused of using Apple's iBooks platform to fix prices for ebook titles. Other defendants in the case include Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Hachette and Holtzbrinck.
The European Commission said: “The Commission considers at this stage that Penguin, together with the aforementioned four publishers and Apple, may have breached EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive practices by jointly switching the sale of ebooks from a wholesale model to agency contracts containing the same key terms (in particular an unusual so-called 'Most Favoured Nation' (MFN) clause for retail prices).
“In the proposed commitments, the five companies offer to terminate existing agency agreements and refrain from adopting price MFN clauses for five years.”
Apple has long been the target of antitrust cases over its handling of ebook titles. Opponents have argued that the Apple model, which charges a share of retail costs, violates retail models by dictating the price that vendors can charge for titles.
The case has forced Apple to shed new light on its inner workings and the management style of co-founder Steve Jobs, whose dictatorial management of the company was notorious in Silicon Valley.
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