Boston, MA 02/10/2013 (wallstreetpr) – Macmillan, the last defendant in an antitrust lawsuit linked to a price restrictive-agreement for sales of e-book has agreed to settle with the US, without pleading guilty to any of the charges. The publisher has agreed to void the agreement to void all deals with retailers whereby discounts on e-books were capped.
Under the said lawsuit Macmillan and 5 out of 6 largest online publishers were accused of having colluded with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in order to depose its competitor Amazon.com Inc. from its lead spot in online discount retail of eBooks.
The accord also shuns the publishing company from any such agreements that restrict price and/or promotions, until Dec. 2014. The company has also vowed to participate in a compliance program that requires disclosure of all its correspondence with publishers, to the government.
One direct repercussion of the accord is that all retailers which sell McMillan’s e-books are now allowed to immediately ”lower the prices consumers pay for Macmillan’s e-books”, the attorney for the Justice Department said in her statement.
The lawsuit showcases incremental imposition of legal remedies against anti-competitive agreements that fix prices, within industries like auto parts and health care.
The settlement will bring an end to all charges against Macmillan but litigation against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will still remain open. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s digital publishing, music retail and mobile computing units will also be under vigilant monitoring of the regulators, from now on.
The Justice Department accused the retailers and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) set a floor price for popular titles, at $14.99 which was far above the price point that previously prevailed in the market. Digital publisher, Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) which leads the e-book business through its famed Kindle application since 2007 used to price even the best sellers at $9.99. The retailers also gave Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) a 30% cut in price. The Kindle maker had to follow suit due to peer pressure.
Macmillan is a division of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, based in Stuttgart-Germany. The US president of the group, John Sargent said the potential penalties arising under the litigation were too high to risk even the “possibility of an unfavorable outcome”.
Over 22.5 million consumers will be compensated out of the settlement proceeds.
The shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) were up by 1.44% to close at $474.95. The shares of Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) were up by 0.66% to close at $261.59.
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