Penguin settles state e-book pricing suits for $75M

The pact also resolves class-action lawsuits filed by consumers who alleged Penguin caused them to overpay for e-books.

E-book pricing has spurred several lawsuits. Jonathan Skillings/CNET
Penguin has agreed to pay $75 million to settle e-book pricing lawsuits filed by many states and private class plaintiffs, bringing an end to the long-running complaints in the U.S.

The settlement would resolve claims filed by 33 state attorneys general against Penguin, as well as class-action lawsuits filed by consumers who alleged the company's behavior violated unfair competition laws and caused consumers to overpay for e-books.

Along with the $75 million in damages, Penguin also agreed to pay costs and fees related to the claims and abide by the same "injunctive relief" as in its settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

A court must approve Penguin's settlement. A hearing is expected later this summer.

Penguin said its parent company, Pearson, had set aside $40 million in its 2012 accounts in anticipation of Wednesday's settlement. An additional charge will be expensed in Pearson's 2013 accounts, it said.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department's case against Apple should go to trial June 3.

Apple and five book publishers have faced investigations and lawsuits for the past couple of years related to how they sell digital books. The companies have been accused of conspiring to hike prices artificially, forcing retailers, like Amazon, to raise prices. Government agencies in the U.S. and elsewhere have argued the pricing agreements hurt customers and limited competition in the marketplace.

Most companies have worked to resolve the suits over the past few months. Penguin recently reached settlements with the Justice Department and the European Union.

 

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