EU antitrust commission to investigate Apple e-book dealings

EU antitrust commission to investigate Apple e-book dealings

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[JURIST] The European Commission for Competition [official website] announced Tuesday that it will investigate Apple [corporate website] for anti-competitive practices in connection with its dealings with several publishers. The investigation is allowed by Article 11(6) of the Antitrust Regulation [text]. The Commission will probe whether Apple colluded with publishing companies, Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck, to increase e-book prices. The Commission outlined the focus of the investigation:

Whether these publishing groups and Apple 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. The Commission is also examining the character and terms of the agency agreements entered into by the above named five publishers and retailers for the sale of e-books. The Commission has concerns, that these practices may breach EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU) [text].

The Commission assured that the investigation is not a prejudgement of the outcome.

Apple has recently been involved with a number of legal disputes, including a class action lawsuit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] dealing with the same matter. The class action lawsuit claims that Apple’s conduct constitutes violations of federal and state antitrust laws, including the Sherman Act, the Cartwright Act and the Unfair Competition Act [texts]. In July, Apple prevailed in a complaint [JURIST report] against HTC [corporate website] when the US International Trade Commission (USITC) [official website] ruled against HTC [JURIST report] for infringement of patents related to cell phones that run the Android operating system (OS). Apple filed a complaint against Samsung [JURIST report] earlier that month in an effort to bar importation of Samsung’s smartphones and tablets. Apple claimed Samsung’s “Galaxy” line copies its iPhone and iPad technology. Apple is also involved in two other suits with Samsung dealing with patent infringements, one in the U.S. {JURIST report] and one in London [Bloomberg report]. In June, Nokia announced that it had reached an agreement with apple [press release; JURIST report] settling all patent disputes between the parties and directing Apple to pay royalties to Nokia for the term of the agreement.