Amazon and EU in Settlement Talks Over E-Book Terms

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Amazon.com Inc. and European Union antitrust authorities are engaged in initial settlement discussions to resolve the regulator’s concerns the e-commerce company abuses its market power to force illegal terms on publishers that harm purchasers of electronic books, according to a person familiar with the matter.

If both sides reach a settlement deal, the commission would then need to test out the agreement’s conditions with publishers. But a settlement deal in the case isn’t imminent, according to this person.

The European Commission opened an in-depth probe into Amazon’s e-books business dealings last June, citing concerns the tech company designs contracts with publishers that prevent other e-books distributors from competing on the same level. The commission is also investigating whether Amazon benefited from sweetheart tax arrangements from Luxembourg.

Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic have targeted the e-books business before. The EU opened formal proceedings in 2011 to investigate whether Apple Inc. and five publishers had illegally colluded to fix the price of e-books before Apple’s first iPad launch in 2010. The case was settled after the companies involved agreed to alter their contracts.

The U.S. Justice Department settled an antitrust e-book pricing lawsuit with five leading publishers and won a related court fight with Apple Inc. that forced Apple to refund customers what they may have overspent on e-books.

News of Amazon settlement talks was earlier reported by Bloomberg News.

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in New York contributed to this article.

Write to Natalia Drozdiak at natalia.drozdiak@wsj.com

Author: Dow Jones Business News
Twitter: @nasdaq
Source: http://www.nasdaq.com

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