Court-Appointed Monitor for Apple Kept in Place
MANHATTAN (CN) - Apple can't wriggle free of the lawyer appointed to monitor its compliance with this past summer's e-book price-fixing verdict, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
In its bid to get rid of court-appointed monitor Michael Bromwich, Apple argued last week that the "millions of dollars" in fees it expects to pay him over the next two years, and his desire to interview company executives, "constitutes irreparable harm." Apple also accused Bromwich of bias and of overstepping his authority.
U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote called Apple's arguments "moot" on Thursday, adding that Apple "has access to a dispute resolution mechanism which has and will be in place to ensure that the monitor does not exceed the bounds of the injunction."
She also said Apple failed to show that the monitor should be disqualified or that the company is suffering irreparable harm.
The judge's July 2013 ruling against Apple blasted the company for conspiring with five major book publishers to raise e-book prices. It marked the end of antitrust lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and 33 states accusing Apple and the publishers of raising, fixing, and stabilizing prices for new and beststelling e-books in an attempt to rattle the market's leader, Amazon.
Cote ordered the appointment of the monitor a month later and selected Bromwich to watch over antitrust issues for at least two years.
When Apple called for Bromwich's removal, the Justice Department fired back, calling Apple's argument "pure sophistry, offered without a bit of case law in support."
Bromwich also chimed in with a brief declaration stating that he has "no financial, personal, or professional interest that might cause impartiality as Apple's external compliance monitor reasonably to be questioned."
Cote had little patience for Apple's handling of the matter.
"Disappointingly, Apple made little showing ... that it had taken to heart the seriousness of the price-fixing conspiracy it orchestrated," Cote wrote. "Nor did Apple provide the court with any evidence that it was seriously reforming its internal antitrust compliance policies to prevent a repeat of its violations."
In its letter to the court, the Justice Department had complained about Apple's "campaign of character assassination."
"Apple has focused on personally attacking Mr. Bromwhich, and thrwarting him from performing even the most basic of his court-ordered functions," DOJ attorney Lawrence Buterman wrote.