Who won the battle of the Apple antitrust monitor?

“Yesterday afternoon a federal appeals court issued a split-the-baby ruling ending the colorful grudge match between Apple (AAPL) and a federal district judge over the powers of an antitrust monitor [Michael Bromwich] she had appointed to oversee the company’s conduct,” Roger Parloff writes for Fortune.

“U.S. District Judge Denise Cote of Manhattan decided to impose the monitorship last September, after having ruled over the summer that the company engaged in an illegal price-fixing conspiracy when it entered the ebooks market with it launch of its iBook store in 2010. She stressed that the companies’ highest officials and lawyers had participated in the conspiracy, and expressed her belief in her written ruling that at least three Apple officials had lied in their testimony before her,” Parloff writes. “When monitor Bromwich began his work, he began seeking interviews with Apple’s entire executive team and its entire board of directors. The breadth of these inquiries shocked Apple, since few of these officials had any direct involvement with antitrust compliance issues.”

“In yesterday’s ruling a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit made no specific reference to any of Apple’s laundry list of alleged transgressions. Instead, the judges apparently decided that so long as they clarified the language of Judge Cote’s monitorship order,” Parloff writes. “It then concluded that Cote’s order ‘should be interpreted narrowly,’ as simply allowing the monitor ‘to assess the appropriateness of the compliance programs adopted by Apple and the means used to communicate those programs to its personnel.'”

Parloff reports, “Apple’s appeals brief on the merits—arguing that it committed no antitrust violation—is due to be filed on February 25.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Who won the battle of the Apple antitrust monitor? Besides Amazon, for which the clueless U.S. DOJ seems to be carrying water, the lawyers, as usual.

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  1. Not only did Apple get what it wanted, the decision sticks it to both Bromowitch and Cote by telling them they CANNOT CRAWLBINSIFE Apple.

    Apple should NOT pay a penny of Bromowitch’s exorbitant fees , till they are addressed and justified/ am mended in it’s appeal, to reflect real fair and comparable market fees.

    1. Apple has no choice but to pay Bromwich’s fees. However, his billable hours should be significantly reduced now that his permitted activities have been severely curtailed.

      1. Don’t agree. This court has deliberately kicked the can down the road and avoided the issue of bromowitch’s fees.

        His fees are excessive and extortive, not to mention that he’s billing for additional fees for an expert that essentially makes up for his lack of related expertise and knowledge AND for that expert he’s demanding a service fee. These fees are unprecedented, unwarranted, unreasonable and unprecedented.

        Apple can dispute delay and withhold payment till the courts look into their validity. Even then Apple can string him along for as long as they like and make him eat crap till they eventually get settlement for payment at a price they want to.

        I’d love to see him sue Apple for payment.

  2. Well instead of investigating, the brown witch can only “edumacate” about what is and isn’t anti competitive. Apple, get’s to listen and pretend to believe… Because they weren’t doing anything wrong in the first place.

  3. The headline has to be sarcasm. If the story is correct Apple is probably sending its lawyers a large bonus. Bromwich will have to change his title from “monitor” to “eunuch”. “Who won…” HA, HA, HA.

  4. I’d argue that Apple got about 7/10 of what they wanted. They didn’t get the monitor dropped (but there was no chance of that happening), they didn’t get Bromwich kicked out (which they really REALLY wanted), and they still have to pay his fees.

    However, they got Bromwich pretty effectively neutered. He can’t really do much and thus can’t really bill much in the “narrow” interpretation of his duties. Heck, he can’t even start billing them again until Apple submits its antitrust revisions to the court for approval under the new interpretation.

    Even the DOJ seemed to see that Bromwich was out of control, that’s why they offered to rein him in. The Appeals court saved Judge Cote’s face by sticking with her order, but basically changed it to be strict rather than very loose (as she intended). It’s a very diplomatic rebuke to her original conditions.

    CANNOT WAIT to see how this goes for Apple once it gets in front of less-biased judges. If this ruling is anything to go by, Apple may not win on appeal but they will get the vast majority of Cote’s unsupported rulings overturned.

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