e-books: investigation into anti-competitive arrangements between some publishers and retailers

Office of Fair Trading (OFT) closed Competition Act 1998 case.

Case Reference: CE/9440-11

Update - 6 December 2011

The OFT has decided to close its investigation into whether arrangements that certain publishers have put in place with some retailers for the sale of e-books may breach competition rules. This decision has been taken on the grounds of the OFT's administrative priorities, in particular because the OFT believes, following discussions with the European Commission, that the European Commission is currently well placed to arrive at a comprehensive resolution of this matter and will do so as a matter of priority.

The OFT will continue to cooperate closely with the European Commission on this matter to help secure the best outcome for UK consumers.

The OFT may reconsider its decision, in consultation with the European Commission, in the future if it has reasonable grounds to suspect that there is an infringement of competition law, which may have an impact on UK consumers.

The OFT has not reached any view as to whether or not the parties involved have infringed competition law.

Update - 2 March 2011

The OFT is fully aware of the European Commission's investigation into the sale of e-books. Both agencies are co-operating very closely to avoid any duplication between the two investigations.

Summary of work

Following a significant number of complaints, the OFT has opened an investigation into whether arrangements that certain publishers have put in place with some retailers for the sale of e-books may breach competition rules.

The investigation is at an early stage and it should not be assumed that the parties involved have breached competition law.

The Competition Act 1998 prohibits agreements, practices and conduct that may have a damaging effect on competition in the UK. The Chapter I prohibition covers anti-competitive agreements and concerted practices that have the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in the UK or a part of it and which may affect trade in the UK or a part of it. Its European counterpart, Article 101 of the TFEU, covers equivalent agreements or practices which may affect trade between EU Member States.

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.