European Commission accepts commitments for sale of e-books

The European Commission accepted the legally binding commitments offered by four publishers and Apple for sale of e-books. The Commission was concerned that the restrictive clauses in the publishers’ agency agreements with Apple limited price competition in e-books by leading to a joint switch from the wholesale model to an agency model with similar terms across the industry. In their commitments, the parties agreed to terminate their existing agency agreements with retail price restrictions (including MFN) and committed not to enter into new agreements on e-books involving MFN clauses relating to prices for five years. These and other commitments are similar to those given by three publishers in their settlement with the Department of Justice in a parallel case in the US. CRA teams in the US and UK advised Harper Collins.