EU in antitrust probe of e-book publishers, Apple

By the Associated Press | December 6, 2011 | 5:50 AM EST

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's antitrust watchdog says it is probing whether five major publishing houses and technology company Apple have colluded to restrict competition in the market for e-books.

The European Commission's investigation focuses on potentially anticompetitive practices by publishers Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck.

The Commission said Tuesday it "will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition in the EU."

The announcement follows raids in the offices of several publishers earlier this year and a related probe launched by the U.K. Office of Fair Trading.