“The court finds that the United States has shown that ‘the effect of [the proposed merger] may be substantially to lessen competition’ in the market for the US publishing rights to anticipated top-selling books,” the judge wrote in a two-page order Monday.
The reasons for the decision will be released later, after the publishers agree on what confidential information should be redacted, the judge said.
Penguin Random House said in a statement that it “strongly” disagrees with the decision and would seek an expedited appeal immediately.
The Justice Department’s antitrust division has stepped up its enforcement under President
The ruling also represents a victory for the Biden administration’s increased focus on competition issues in labor markets: At trial, DOJ lawyers leaned heavily on the argument that authors would be harmed by having fewer publishing houses to compete for their titles.
“Today’s decision protects vital competition for books and is a victory for authors, readers, and the free exchange of ideas,” Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust
The ruling also comes on the heels of the Justice Department’s first criminal
At trial, executives of Penguin’s rival backed the Justice Department’s case.
The case is US v. Bertelsmann SE, 21-cv-02886, US District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
(Updates with Penguin statement, context on DOJ challenges starting from fifth paragraph)
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