(CN) – A two-year antitrust investigation into Amazon’s e-book business ended Thursday with the European Commission accepting the Seattle-based giant’s promise to drop so-called “most favored nation” clauses in its distribution contracts with publishers.
The commission began its investigation of Amazon in June 2015, and focused on whether the company’s requirement that publishers notify it when competitors offer new or more favorable terms. The regulatory agency also looked at whether “most favored nation” clauses – where Amazon demanded to receive as good or better terms from publishers than what was given to competitors – hampered competition in the e-book sector.
On Thursday, the commission said Amazon has agreed to stop enforcing and will no longer introduce the contract clauses. After taking public comment, the commission accepted Amazon’s pledge and ended the investigation.
“Today’s decision will open the way for publishers and competitors to develop innovative services for e-books, increasing choice and competition to the benefit of European consumers,” competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. “Amazon used certain clauses in its agreements with publishers, which may have made it more difficult for other e-book platforms to innovate and compete effectively with Amazon. We want to ensure fair competition in Europe’s e-books market, worth more than 1 billion euros.”
Amazon’s agreement also includes a provision allowing publishers to cancel contracts that include the offending clause, with 120 days’ advance written notice.