Over six months after the European Commission reached an ebook pricing settlement with four publishers and Apple, the EC has approved a similar settlement with Penguin. Penguin, which was trying to clear the decks for its upcoming merger with Random House, had offered its proposed settlement terms in April.
According to an EC press release:
“Penguin offered substantially the same commitments as those proposed by the other four publishers and made legally binding on those companies in December 2012…They include, in particular, the termination of on-going agency agreements and the exclusion of certain most-favoured-nation (MFN) clauses in Penguin’s agency agreements during the next five years. Penguin also offered to give retailers freedom to discount e-books, subject to certain conditions, during two years. After a market test (see IP/13/343), the Commission is satisfied that the commitments offered by Penguin remedy the competition concerns it had identified.”
The EC says the settlements “will contribute to creating a favorable environment for a reset of the competitive conditions in the e-books market during a sufficient period of time.” The terms of the publishers’ settlements with the EC largely mirror the terms of their settlements in the U.S.
Apple settled with the EU, but not with the U.S., and the approval of the Penguin settlement comes a few weeks after a U.S. judge found Apple guilty of conspiring with publishers to set ebook prices.