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Apple and e-book publishers offer proposed settlement with EU

Companies hope to end EU’s antitrust investigation

Apple Inc. and several publishers have offered the European Union (EU) a settlement to end an ongoing investigation into the companies’ possible antitrust violations with regard to e-books.

According to the proposed settlement, Apple and publishers Simon & Schuster, News Corp. unit HarperCollins, French group Lagardere SCA's Hachette Livre and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, which owns Macmillan in Germany—all of which are targets in the EU’s antitrust investigation—will allow Amazon.com and other retailers to sell e-books at a discount. Another publisher, Pearson Plc's Penguin group, is part of the EU’s investigation but is not a party in the proposed settlement. Under this agreement, Apple will take a percentage of e-book prices that the publishers set.

"For a period of two years, the four publishers will not restrict, limit or impede e-book retailers' ability to set, alter or reduce retail prices for e-books and/or to offer discounts or promotions," the European Commission said of the proposed settlement.

The EU is asking customers and other publishers to comment on the proposed agreement by Oct. 19. If it accepts the offer, the EU’s investigation against the companies will cease.

Read more about this proposed settlement on Thomson Reuters and BloombergBusinessweek.

Read more InsideCounsel stories about this and related cases:

Barnes & Noble objects to e-book settlement

Apple takes on suits over e-books and Siri

Apple rejects DOJ charge of e-book price collusion

DOJ threatens Apple, top 5 publishers with e-book lawsuit

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Cathleen Flahardy

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