The US filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, Hachette SA, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster in New York district court, claiming collusion over eBook pricing.
Apple and Macmillan, which have refused to engage in settlement talks with the Justice Department, deny they colluded to raise prices for digital books, according to people familiar with the matter. They will argue that pricing agreements between Apple and publishers enhanced competition in the e-book industry, which was dominated by Amazon.com Inc. The Justice Department is probing how Cupertino, California-based Apple changed the way publishers charged for e-books on the iPad, a person familiar with the matter said last month. CBS Corporation (CBS)’s Simon & Schuster, Lagardère SCA’s Hachette Book Group and News Corporation (NWSA)’s HarperCollins are seeking to avoid a costly legal battle and could settle as soon as today, two people familiar with the matter said.
The Justice Department said it would announce an “unspecified” antitrust settlement today.
Pearson’s Penguin Group (PNGN) was also preparing to fight the US Justice Department in court if necessary, two people familiar with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News April 5.
Gina Talamona, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department’s antitrust division, and representatives of Apple, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin and Macmillan, which is a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, declined to comment on prospects for lawsuits or settlements.
Apple, Penguin and Macmillan want to protect the so-called agency model that lets publishers - not vendors - set e-book prices, said the people on April 5, who declined to be identified because they weren’t authorised to speak publicly.
The government is seeking a settlement that would let Amazon and other retailers return to a wholesale model, where retailers decide what to charge customers, the people said.