Competition Tribunal issues decision, case against HarperCollins moves forward

News Release

Tribunal rejects HarperCollins’ request to summarily dismiss Commissioner’s application  

July 25, 2017 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau

The Competition Bureau welcomes the decision by the Competition Tribunal dismissing HarperCollins’ motion to strike the Commissioner’s application against the publisher. This decision will allow the Bureau to proceed with the application to stop HarperCollins’ alleged anti‑competitive conduct and provides helpful guidance on the scope of the Competition Act’s provision on collaboration among competitors in this case.

In its decision, the Tribunal considered whether it is “plain and obvious” that it has no jurisdiction to hear the application on the grounds that the arrangement was formed in the US and no longer exists in Canada. With that consideration, the Tribunal found that the competitor collaboration provision may cover agreements or arrangements entered into outside of Canada that have anti-competitive effects in Canada. The Tribunal also found that, if proven, the facts set out in the application could support a finding that the arrangement existed when the Commissioner filed the application. The Tribunal rejected HarperCollins’ argument that US settlements and prior consent agreements ended the alleged arrangement.

The Commissioner took action against HarperCollins in January and filed an application under section 90.1 of the Competition Act. The application concerned HarperCollins’ part in an arrangement with its competitors and sought to stop HarperCollins from preventing Canadian retailers from offering discounts on ebooks to Canadian consumers. A Bureau investigation concluded that this arrangement led to higher prices for Canadian consumers.

The Bureau will now focus on advancing this matter before the Competition Tribunal.

Quick Facts

  • In January 2017, the Commissioner took action against HarperCollins by filing an application with the Competition Tribunal.

  • On the same day, the Commissioner signed consent agreements with Apple and ebook publishers Hachette, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster to resolve the Commissioner’s concerns. The agreements allow ebook retailers to offer discounts to consumers on their ebooks, for a period of at least nine months.

  • The global economy is changing rapidly and technology is redefining the way Canadians consume goods and services. The Bureau continues to monitor firms in the digital economy to ensure they do not engage in anti-competitive conduct.

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