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Competition Law

Analysis - debate - current awareness

06 DEC 2011

E-books Investigation

The European Commission announced on 6 December 2011 that it had opened a formal investigation into the sales of e-books. The investigation will look at whether international publishers Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing, France), Harper Collins (News Corp, USA), Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp, USA), Penguin (Pearson Group, UK) and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck (owner of Macmillan, Germany) have, possibly with the help of Apple, engaged in anti-competitive practices affecting the sale of e-books in the EEA, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The Commission will look in particular at the agency model, whether Apple was truly an independent agent, and the impact of the agency model on prices. The opening of proceedings means that the Commission will treat the case as a matter of priority.

As a result of the EU investigation and its administrative priorities, the OFT closed its own investigation into the sector.

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