Penguin settles e-book pricing lawsuit with Department of Justice

Apple and Macmillan still won't budge in the US civil lawsuit over anti-competitive behaviour in the e-book business.

Book publisher Penguin has settled a court case brought on by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) over allegations that the company was engaged in anti-competitive behaviour with e-book pricing.

The DOJ launched a civil antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five book publishers, claiming that they colluded to push prices of e-books up on Amazon.com in 2010. Apple is alleged to have allowed publishers to charge more for e-books in the iTunes Store, which subsequently affected e-book pricing on Amazon.com, according to the DOJ.

Publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster agreed to settle the lawsuit early, but Penguin, Macmillan, and Apple refused to budge at the time.

Penguin, however, has relented, agreeing to settle the lawsuit before its impending merger with Random House.

"Penguin continues to believe that the agency pricing model has encouraged competition among distributors of both e-books and e-book readers, and, in the company's view, continues to operate in the interest of consumers and authors," Penguin said in a statement. "But it is also in everyone's interests that the proposed Penguin Random House company should begin life with a clean sheet of paper."

Penguin's settlement still needs to be approved by the courts.

The publisher faced similar charges after the European Commission launched a formal antitrust probe into Apple and five major publishers a year ago. While Apple and four major publishers have settled the case with the Commission, Penguin has not . The Commission said that it was still in talks with Penguin over this issue.

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