Apple ebooks monitor escape plan foiled

Feb 11, 2014
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Apple ebooks monitor escape plan foiled

Apple has lost its latest attempt to soften the impact of its ebook price-fixing punishment, with a court rejecting its appeal to stay the work of the mandated antitrust monitor the Cupertino firm has been forced to pay for. Michael R. Bromwich had been employed at the court's demand to work in-house at Apple, after the company was found guilty of conspiring with five of the major publishing houses to raise ebook pricing. Unsurprisingly, Apple wasn't too keen on his presence, however - nor how much access to internal documents he would be given - though the appeals court has softened the impact a little.

Bromwich will still be required to monitor Apple's activities, specifically what policies it was introducing so as to avoid any future antitrust behaviors and educate high-level executives around that. However, his role is not to "investigate whether such personnel were in fact complying with the antitrust or other laws" the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit pointed out, the NYTimes reports.

Apple had previously accused Bromwich of price-gouging, claiming that after his own fees, administrative surcharges, and supporting the team he brought onboard, he was in fact the most expensive lawyer the company had ever retained.

In fact, in the first two weeks of work, Apple calculated, Bromwich invoiced it a total of $138,432; that works out to more than $1,100 per hour. Apple also took issue with the fact that the lawyer was contracted through his consulting firm, rather than his legal practice, but seemed to be using the cachet of the court's decision to benefit both.

Apple's proposal had been that Bromwich's activities would be halted until its appeal against the ebook price fixing case, filed back in October, is decided on. Justice Denise Cote, who made the original decision last year, had already rejected a request in January from Apple to freeze the monitoring.


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