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DeWine announces agreement with Penguin Group to resolve e-book price-fixing allegations

Norwalk Reflector Staff • May 23, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday announced the resolution of a multistate antitrust lawsuit against a major U.S. book publisher for price-fixing and collusion in the electronic book (e-book) market.

DeWine and 32 other attorneys general have reached an agreement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc. to settle allegations that Penguin colluded with other major publishers and Apple Inc. to manipulate prices in the e-book market. An estimated $4.77 million will be distributed to Ohio consumers as a result of this settlement and previous settlements with four other publishers.

"We are pleased to have reached this settlement, which is the next step in this important case," DeWine said. "We will continue to work with the other attorneys general to ensure that consumers who purchased e-books recoup the overcharges they paid as a result of the conspiracy."

Penguin has agreed to pay $75 million for consumers nationwide. DeWine and the other state attorneys general previously entered into settlements totaling $89 million with four other publishers: Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster Inc., and Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan, for allegations relating to the same conduct.

The agreement with Penguin must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. When finalized, the agreement with Penguin also will grant e-book outlets greater freedom to reduce the prices of their e-book titles.

Consumers will be notified of their rights under the settlement in the coming months. Once the court gives final approval, consumers will receive emails telling them when their credits will be available.

The multistate antitrust action based on the same allegations against Apple Inc. remains pending with trial scheduled in June 2013.

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