Attorney General George Jepsen announced that Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, d/b/a Macmillan, has signed a preliminary memorandum of understanding for settlement of claims asserted by Connecticut and 32 other states and territories (the “Litigating States”) in a lawsuit alleging price-fixing and collusion in the market for electronic books, or eBooks.
“Consumers are entitled to a fair and open marketplace,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “This agreement is another step toward providing restitution to those consumers who were harmed by alleged price-fixing within the eBook market and will further ensure that, going forward, consumers benefit from fair competition in the sale of eBooks.”
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The agreement with Macmillan will, if finalized and approved by the court, provide significant consumer restitution as well as injunctive relief. This agreement grants eBook outlets greater freedom to reduce the prices of eBook titles and provides $12 million to compensate affected customers in the 33 states.
In addition, Judge Denise L. Cote of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has granted final approval of previous settlements with eBook publishers Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC and Simon & Schuster Inc. relating to the same conduct. These previous settlements were joined by the attorneys general of 49 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. Final approval paves the way for the affected consumers to receive $69 million in consumer restitution.
The litigation and settlements stem from a two year investigation conducted by the Offices of the Connecticut and Texas Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Litigating States continue to litigate against Apple Inc. and Penguin Group (USA. The trial against Penguin and Apple currently is scheduled to begin in June 2013.
For consumer information on the now-approved settlements with Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, please visit www.ebookagsettlements.com or call the eBooks settlement hotline at 1-866-621-4153.
Assistant Attorneys General Joseph Nielsen, Gary Becker and Richard Porter, Paralegal Holly MacDonald and Assistant Attorney General Michael Cole, chief of the Antitrust and Government Program Fraud Department, are assisting the Attorney General in this matter.
Attorney General Jepsen serves as co-chair of the Antitrust Committee for the National Association of Attorneys General.