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Apple Loses Bid to Block Antitrust Monitor

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Apple’s latest bid to block the e-books antitrust monitor, but clarified the limitations on the powers of the monitor Michael Bromwich. The court said that Bromwich may continue to examine Apple’s antitrust compliance policies while the company keeps pursuing an appeal to remove the monitor.

However, the court also clarified that Bromwich may not actively investigate whether Apple employees are complying with antitrust laws or not, but bring violations to the notice of the district court, if he chances upon any.

Gina Talamona, a Department of Justice spokeswoman said, the “ruling makes abundantly clear that Apple must now cooperate with the court-appointed monitor.”

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After finding Apple liable for conspiring with five publishers to raise e-book prices, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote had appointed Bromwich as a monitor to look into antitrust compliance by Apple in the matter.

Since the appointment, Apple has raised one complaint after another in trying to remove Bromwich or limit his powers. Initially, Cote rejected Apple’s arguments observing that the reactions of the company only affirmed the need of an external monitor.

Apple has complained time and again that Bromwich has been overreaching his powers and had improperly sought interviews with key executives and insisted on broad access to company documents that were beyond the scope of his authority.

During oral arguments before the 2nd Circuit, DOJ attorneys acceded that Bromwich’s duties were effectively limited only to assessing the compliance policies and its efforts to disseminate those policies to its workers. It was not his duty to check on whether the workers were following the compliance policies or not.

Apple continues to pursue its appeal of Cote’s initial findings which held Apple liable for price fixing of e-books. At least 33 state attorneys general and class action attorneys representing consumers from 16 states are demanding compensation that may total about $840 million.

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