Amazon is accused of fixing the price of e-books sold on the e-commerce site through anti-competitive agreements with the five largest publishers in the country, according to File a complaint Thursday.
The class-action filed in the US District Court in the Southern District of New York alleges that Amazon and publishers entered into price-fixing agreements in 2015, allowing publishers to increase the prices of their e-books by up to 30 percent while protecting Amazon from price competition from other e-book retailers.
The lawsuit also alleges that Amazon violated antitrust and consumer protection laws through agreements with publishers known as the “Big Five,” made up of Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin-Random House, and Simon & Schuster.
The lawsuit, filed by Hagens Berman, comes on the heels of a similar class action lawsuit brought by the company against Apple and the so-called Big Five in 2011. The case ended with Apple settling $ 400 million, and the publishers settled on millions more, the company said.
The settlement also prevented the Big Five from interfering with retailers’ discounts for two years, resulting in lower and most competitive e-book prices from 2013 to 2014, before the alleged price-fix deal struck Amazon and publishers in 2015, according to a complaint.
“Amazon’s abuse of power proves, once again, that when it comes to violating antitrust laws, the new economy follows the same old tricks,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, in a statement.
Amazon and Macmillan spokesmen declined to comment. Spokespeople for the other publishing companies were not immediately available for comment.
The lawsuit was filed the same week by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D) His office said Has an “active and ongoing antitrust investigation” at Amazon of “potentially anti-competitive clauses in e-book distribution agreements with specific publishers.”
Connecticut was among the states that previously sued Apple over competition in e-book sales. The Justice Department also filed a lawsuit against Apple in 2012 alleging that it conspired with major publishers over the pricing of e-books.
The state-led investigation into the e-book business on Amazon is one of the antitrust investigations facing the e-commerce giant, including both state-led and federal efforts.