Apple E-Book Injunction Less Strict Than Sought

     MANHATTAN (CN) – A court-appointed monitor will have a more restrained role over Apple’s e-book business than the government wanted after winning its antitrust case.
     U.S. District Judge Denise Cote forbid Apple on Thursday from entering into “most favored nation” status with publishers Hachette, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Macmillan.
     Though a court-appointed monitor is set oversee Apple’s compliance for two years, Judge Cote warned that she could extend that time period at her discretion. The monitor will write semiannual reports assessing changes in the company’s practices and employee training.
     Though the monitor will play a far more modest role in Apple’s operations than the United States wanted, the Justice Department said Friday that it was “pleased” with Judge Cote’s remedies.
     “Consumers will continue to benefit from lower e-books prices as a result of the department’s enforcement action to restore competition in this important industry,” Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer said in a statement. “By appointing an external monitor to ensure future compliance with the antitrust laws, the court has helped protect consumers from further misconduct by Apple.”
     The injunction does not include the Justice Department’s original request to invest the court appointee with the power to “monitor Apple’s compliance with the terms of this final judgment,” but only with the ability to “review and evaluate Apple’s existing internal antitrust compliance policies and procedures.”
     Attorneys for Apple declined to comment on the record.
     The ruling closes the book on the year-old federal action by the U.S. Department of Justice and 33 states to hold Apple and five major publishers accountable for antitrust violations. Federal and state authorities accused the companies of conspiring to raise, fix and stabilize the retail price for newly released and bestselling trade e-books amid Amazon’s dominance of the new market.
     Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster all settled as soon as the action was filed in April 2012. Penguin settled in December, and Macmillan settled two months later, making Apple the last defendant standing as the antitrust case headed to trial.
     Judge Cote found against Apple in July, and the computer giant recently failed to stay her ruling pending an appeal.

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