Macmillan settles up with DoJ, Apple now stands alone in e-book price fixing case

It took awhile to read the writing on the wall, but Macmillan has finally settled the antitrust lawsuit brought by the US Justice Department for the publisher's alleged e-book price fixing. In doing so, Macmillan joins Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Penguin in choosing not to go to trial against the DoJ's lawyers. It's an about-face from Macmillan's initial stance in settlement negotiations, when it claimed that the DoJ's terms were far too onerous.

Why settle now? Company CEO John Sargent told the Wall Street Journal that the company changed its tune not because it was guilty, but "because the potential penalties became too high to risk even the possibility of an unfavorable outcome." Should the settlement terms be approved by the court, retailers will be able to discount Macmillan titles, regardless of existing contracts, for 23 months starting from December 18, 2012. With Macmillan bowing out, Apple remains as Uncle Sam's lone legal opponent at the trial scheduled in June. Given Apple's staunch denial of wrongdoing and general willingness to litigate, it seems we may be in for some more legal fireworks this summer.