On April 10, 2012, Siskinds LLP, on behalf of eBook consumers, filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice a proposed class action against Apple Inc., Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC carrying on business as Macmillan Publishers, Inc., Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Simon & Schuster, Inc. and their Canadian subsidiaries for the price-fixing of eBooks. Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman (CFM) has filed a related claim in British Columbia.
The claims allege that the defendants agreed on changing the method by which eBooks were sold to retailers and consumers by adopting an “agency” model. The claims also allege that the defendants agreed to a thirty percent commission rate to Apple for each eBook sold and to a retail price-matching “most favoured nation” provision, specifying that no other eBook retailer would sell an eBook title at a lower price than Apple. The claims allege that the conspiracy resulted in consumers paying millions of dollars more for their eBooks.
On April 11, 2012, the United States Department of Justice announced that it had reached settlements with Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster with regards to the eBooks price-fixing conspiracy, but would be continuing litigation against Apple, Macmillan and Penguin.
Siskinds and CFM are experienced class action firms and together have prosecuted a number of competition law class actions in Canada. Siskinds and CFM will be working together to pursue the eBooks litigation on a national basis. Siskinds and CFM will also be working closely with a top United States class actions law firm, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, whose main office is in Seattle, Washington. Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is co-lead counsel in the related U.S. litigation.
Partner Charles Wright of Siskinds stated, “This is a case about getting fair prices for consumers and ensuring real competition in Canada. We have been working with Hagens Berman for some time to benefit from their diligent investigation of this case. The structure of the Canadian eBook business is similar to that in the United States and we believe the recent actions by the Department of Justice in the United States support the allegations made in our case.”