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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
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Apple Antitrust Monitor Told to Wrap It Up

(CN) - The attorney monitoring Apple's compliance with an antitrust verdict has performed a "significant public service," but there is no need to extend his oversight role beyond the two-year term, a federal judge said Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote appointed Washington-based consultant Michael Bromwich to monitor Apple in 2013 after slamming the tech giant for artificially inflating e-book prices.

The case stemmed from a lawsuit by U.S. Department of Justice and 33 states against leading e-book publishers, but Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Penguin, Hachette and HarperCollins all reached settlements ahead of trial.

Almost immediately after the verdict, Bromwich complained that Apple's executives stonewalled his investigation, and Apple lambasted the monitor as biased and too cozy with the company's government adversaries.

Apple tried and failed twice to unseat Bromwich, though a dissenting judge of the Second Circuit seemed sympathetic to the company's grievances.

Judge Cote alluded to this rocky relationship Tuesday in a 4-page order commending Bromwich for his service.

"The monitor has ably performed a significant public service in a difficult environment," Cote wrote. "Due to the injunction and monitorship, Apple has entirely revamped its antitrust compliance program. It is to be hoped that this program will benefit not only the American public but Apple as well."

Bromwich filed his most recent report on the company a little less than a week ago.

He found that Apple had a "positive story to tell" about its progress, but called the company its "own worst enemy" in continuing to obstruct his work.

Despite Bromwich's "challenging relationship with Apple," the monitor "persevered and made numerous recommendations" that the company implemented, Cote said.

"In Apple's view, over the past two years it has developed and implemented an effective program," her ruling continues. "It substantially revised its antitrust and competition policy, distributed an interactive antitrust reference tool, created an antitrust compliance training program, and, most recently, engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers to evaluate its compliance program. Apple promises that it will hold annual training sessions and conduct periodic antitrust risk assessments and audits."

A spokeswoman for Bromwich declined to comment. Attorneys for Apple have not yet returned a request for comment.

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