Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for December 15th, 2011

Ebooks and Resale Price Maintenance

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Last week the European Commission announced the opening of formal proceedings to investigate whether international publishers may have engaged in anti-competitive agency agreements regarding the sale of ebooks (see Press Release). Dawn-raids in connection with this case were carried out last March.

Today´s edition of the Financial Times (edited by Pearson -a publisher affected by the investigation-) features a most interesting piece on a very related topic under the title Don´t make Amazon a monopoly.

Its author -John Gapper- argues that competition authorities in the US and the EU should not challenge the arrangements under which publishers set minimum prices for ebooks and preclude companies such as Amazon, Apple or Barnes&Noble from offering discounted prices. It explains that this is a textbook example of the situation that the US Supreme Court had in mind when it overturned Dr. Miles in its Opinion in Leegin, and submits that it would be paradoxical for competition rules to enable free riding-based discounting on the part of Amazon, thus enhancing its alleged “monopoly”.

This situation and the legal controvery surrounding it raises very interesting questions that go beyond the situation at issue and which have the potential to affect online distribution in general.

Does anyone have any strong views on this?

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

15 December 2011 at 6:27 pm