Apple’s E-Book Surrender in Europe Will Go Ahead

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The antitrust probe against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and four book publishers will come to an end in Europe after regulators decided to accept a settlement offer made by the under-investigation companies. The decision will effectively hand Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) a victory in its attempt to sell e-books cheaper than its rivals, Reuters said.

Apple, along with Simon & Schuster (NYSE:CBS), HarperCollins (NASDAQ:NWSA), Hachette Livre, and Macmillan, made the proposal in September. Penguin (NYSE:PSO), which is also under investigation, was not part of the deal.

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As part of the agreement, the publishers will let retailers set their own e-book prices for a period of two years and will suspend all most-favored nation contracts, which let Apple set the lowest prices, for five years. The European Commission had asked rivals and consumers for feedback about the proposal in September. It will not ask for further concessions and will formally announce the decision next month, Reuters said.

The case was investigating if publishers’ pricing policies were preventing Amazon and other retailers from setting lower e-book prices. If the investigation found violation of European antitrust laws, each company would’ve faced penalties up to 10 percent of revenue from global sales.

A similar investigation is currently underway in the U.S., where the Department of Justice has come to settlement agreements with three publishers. However, Apple, which caused the settlement proposal “unlawful,” as well as Penguin and Macmillan are still pursuing the case that is set to go to trial in June 2013.

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