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Appeals court hears Apple's arguments against e-book antitrust monitor

updated 04:20 pm EST, Tue February 4, 2014

No decision made, monitor's efforts remain halted until ruling

Earlier today, Apple had its case heard before the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, in which the company is hoping to kill or reduce e-book antitrust monitor Michael Bromwich's efforts permanently. The computer manufacturer argued that his investigations were excessive, that he lacked the knowledge to properly oversee Apple, and that his fees and duties for the monitoring in addition to any court-ordered payments would cost millions of dollars, all of which will cause "irreparable harm" to Apple's business and relationships.

In its court filings, Apple noted that Bromwich required a second lawyer with actual experience in antitrust issues at $1,025 per hour to assist him. Bromwich demanded an $1,100 per hour rate for himself, in addition to a 15 percent "administrative fee" to his consulting firm. During his first two weeks on the case, Bromwich billed Apple over $138,000.

Michael Bromwich is a friend of e-book trial Judge Denise Cote, and her appointed antitrust monitor ordered to review changes to Apple's antitrust policies. Bromwich claims that the company has been "uncooperative" with regards to his extra-legal investigations, and denied Apple's claim that he was conducting a "broad and amorphous inquisition" that had little to do with Apple's e-book business.

During his supervisory efforts, Bromwich demanded interviews with engineers and board members that had no connection to the e-book business, such as product designer Jonathan Ive and former US Vice President Al Gore, on his own schedule and terms. Bromwich also demanded access to confidential Apple documents that had no direct bearing on the e-book business found to be in violation of anti-trust laws.

Judge Gerard Lynch of the Appeals Court judicial panel noted in today's hearing that Apple was one of the world's richest companies, stating that "maybe if they had spent some of their very valuable time keeping the company from violating antitrust laws, perhaps they wouldn't be in this position."

The Second US Circuit Court of Appeals granted Apple an administrative stay prior to this hearing which temporarily lifted Bromwich's surveillance. The stay is pending a final decision by the three-judge panel. Apple believes that it will suffer irreparable harm if the monitor continues his work unfettered while the court decides if the monitor is necessary at all.

No ruling was made today. The judges have taken Apple's request under advisement, and should rule in the next 90 days.

by MacNN Staff



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