Apple, publishers face EC antitrust probe over ebooks

Commission deems case "a matter of priority"...
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor on

Commission deems case "a matter of priority"...

Apple and five international publishers are to be probed as part of an investigation into whether anticompetitive practices have taken place in the ebook market.

European Commission

The European Commission has launched formal antitrust proceedings against Apple and othersPhoto: Shutterstock

The European Commission has opened formal antitrust proceedings to investigate whether Apple and five publishing groups 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 [European Economic Area]".

The publishers being probed by the EC's investigation are Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck.

The Commission will treat the case "as a matter of priority", according to an EC statement issued today.

The duration of the antitrust investigation depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case; the extent to which the parties involved cooperate with the Commission; and the exercise of the rights of defence, the EC said.

In March 2011, the Commission carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies in several member states involved in ebook publishing.

In separate statements both HarperCollins and Penguin's parent group, Pearson, said their respective companies are co-operating fully with the investigation. Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck stated it regards allegations relating to the company in connection with the investigation to be unfounded.

Simon & Schuster declined to provide a statement on the investigation, while Apple and Hachette Livre had not yet responded to request for comment at the time of publication.

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