01/20/2015 12:13 EST | Updated 03/23/2015 05:59 EDT

Competition Bureau Wants Indigo, Kobo To Hand Over Documents On eBook Prices


OTTAWA _ The Competition Bureau has asked Indigo Books and Music Inc. to hand over documents as part of its ongoing investigation into alleged anti-competitive ebook pricing practices.

The watchdog said Tuesday it filed an application in Federal Court last week seeking "certain records'' from Canada's largest bookstore chain and Kobo Inc., which is owned by Japanese ecommerce firm Rakuten Inc.

Greg Scott, a spokesman for the bureau, says the request was just for documents and does not mean that Indigo or Kobo are the subject of the investigation.

"At this time, there is no conclusion of wrongdoing by Penguin, Kobo or Indigo, and no application has been filed with the Competition Tribunal or any other court to seek remedies for any alleged anti-competitive conduct on the part of Penguin, Kobo or Indigo,'' Scott said in an email.

"As always, should the Bureau find evidence of conduct contrary to the Competition Act, the Bureau will take action, where appropriate.''

An Indigo spokeswoman says the company was notified last week about the court application.

"It should be made clear that Indigo is not a target of the inquiry but rather has records that may be relevant to this investigation,'' Janet Eger said in an email.

"As a general policy, Indigo does not comment on matters before the courts or other tribunals.''

The probe is part of the watchdog's ongoing investigation into the Canadian electronic book industry, which was launched in 2012

Last February, the bureau announced that four major publishers of electronic books agreed to changes that will result in lower retail prices.

The deal was expected to remove restrictions that prevented ebook retailers from lowering their prices, contrary to Canada's competition law.

The bureau said agreements have been signed with Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster.

This is a corrected story. An earlier version said the Competition Bureau was investigating Indigo over anti-competition ebook pricing practices. In fact, Indigo is not the subject of the investigation but has been asked for documents as part of the bureau's ongoing examination of such pricing practices.

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