In New York this week, Judge Valerie Figueredo heard oral arguments on motions to dismiss a consumer class action lawsuit that alleges the Big Five publishers, together with Amazon, have colluded to eliminate price competition from the e-book market.
In 2013, in the so-called “Apple e-books case,” Amazon was the alleged victim of a conspiracy by the major publishers.
Now, Amazon and the Big Five are named as co-conspirators in a suit brought by Hagens Berman, the same firm that first sued Apple.
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“The allegations are that Amazon and the Big Five publishers have conspired to eliminate retail price competition for e-books, specifically through use of Amazon’s Most Favored Nation (MFN) clauses in it contracts with each of the publishers,” reports Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer.
“The allegation is that the publishers each agreed to allow Amazon an MFN, which guarantees that Amazon can’t be underpriced, and in return Amazon’s MFN ensures that none of the publishers will underprice the others,” he tells me.
“Judge Figueredo seemed very much on point in probing both sides over three hours of arguments,” Albanese says. “I’m sure the publishers and Amazon are quite eager to dispatch with a case that they’ve called illogical and implausible from the outset.”