Appeals court denies Apple's bid to remove antitrust monitor in e-books case

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2015
Apple's efforts to have antitrust compliance monitor Michael Bromwich removed from oversight of its business were denied on Wednesday, as an appeals court said the iBooks operator lacked sufficient reasoning to have him replaced.

Bromwich


In the decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York admitted that some of the actions made by Bromwich "give pause." But that wasn't enough to have him entirely removed from his oversight position, as noted by Reuters.

Bromwich was assigned to keep tabs Apple's operations following an antitrust lawsuit won against the company by the U.S. government. And while Apple and Bromwich have not seen eye to eye from the start, in recent months the relationship has worsened.

In a statement made to Judge Denise Cote last month, Bromwich said Apple has taken a more "adversarial tone" in recent discussions. In addition, he said that no interviews have been conducted since January, since Apple has rejected his requests.

Apple has taken issue with the extent of the investigations by Bromwich, alleging that his reviews have gone beyond the original intent by the court. Some outside of the company have agreed, including a circuit court judge and the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal.

In its decision on Wednesday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals apparently agreed with some of those criticisms of Bromwich, but did not feel there was enough to have a new antitrust compliance monitor appointed. As a result, Bromwich's oversight of Apple will remain.

Summation
Apple's closing slide in its e-book antitrust case. | Source: U.S. District Court
Journal's opinion page slammed Bromwich's approach as being "major abuse, even by the standards of modern antitrust." The newspaper even alleged that Apple should sue Bromwich for his investigation, which has cost the company more than $2.65 million and has involved investigations into Apple's Siri, Maps and hardware engineering groups, none of which are related to the e-book antitrust lawsuit.

The U.S. government's ruling saddled Apple with an injunction that bars it from entering into any unsavory deals with publishers, and as antitrust monitor, Bromwich's job is to ensure that Apple follows those restrictions. Apple officials have said they continue to fight the case out of principle, because the company insists that no illegal collusion took place between itself and book publishers.

For the launch of the iBookstore, Apple and book publishers opted to switch to a so-called "agency" pricing model, that allowed publishers to control the prices of books and prevented resellers like Amazon from undercutting those rates. The subsequent increase in e-book prices led the government to take action.

Since then, the agency has switched back to the "wholesale model" preferred by Amazon, which allows resellers to set prices, and sell titles at or below costs if they so choose.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    msanttimsantti Posts: 1,377member
    This whole thing is nonsense IMO.
  • Reply 2 of 22
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,315member
    I still think this whole lawsuit is utter bullshit. I can't see how it was collusion and how bringing another strong competitor into a monopolistic market (Amazon) is a bad thing for the market. Intellectual property needs to be valued and Amazon was whoring it out to gain market share.
  • Reply 3 of 22
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,935member
    If I was Apple, I'd completly keep this guy in the dark about anything and everything not having to do with e-books!!! That's all he's there for, give him the finger when he wants access to anything else!!!
  • Reply 4 of 22

    Is this the same appeals court that is ruling on Apple's appeal of the actual verdict?  If so what on earth is taking them so long.  If they rule in favor of Apple on the appeal then any issue related to Bromwich is moot.  Does this indicate a negative ruling on the appeal is forthcoming?  Sure hope not.

  • Reply 5 of 22
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,950member

    Why does anyone think the court system will rule against itself? They're just like FIFA and will do whatever it takes to keep their good old boys and girls club running. What we really need is a congressional and presidential investigation into the entire judicial system. This is the only way to get the third branch of the government to actually play by the rules.

     

    Of course, we all know this will never happen because the entire government is incapable of doing anything resembling consistent operation.

  • Reply 6 of 22
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

     

    Why does anyone think the court system will rule against itself? They're just like FIFA and will do whatever it takes to keep their good old boys and girls club running. What we really need is a congressional and presidential investigation into the entire judicial system. This is the only way to get the third branch of the government to actually play by the rules.

     

    Of course, we all know this will never happen because the entire government is incapable of doing anything resembling consistent operation.




    Normally I'd say corrupt people don't investigate other corrupt people, but the DOJ went after FIFA, so...

  • Reply 7 of 22
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,592member
    So it's ok for a judge's buddy to fleece Apple because he doesn't have the correct experience? Will Apple get a refund when this whole thing is overturned?
  • Reply 8 of 22
    jungmark wrote: »
    So it's ok for a judge's buddy to fleece Apple because he doesn't have the correct experience? Will Apple get a refund when this whole thing is overturned?

    The DOJ was asked this question during the trial and they said it was highly unlikely that Apple would be reimbursed for the costs paid to the monitor in the event of a reversal on appeal. I don't think tax payers really deserve to be on the hook for this, but there should be some combination of Bromwich returning a portion of the exorbitant fees and Judge Cote (who assigned the monitor), Eric Holder and others at the DOJ who should be billed out-of-pocket for this nonsense if the judgement is overturned. Obviously not holding my breath for that.
  • Reply 9 of 22
    ceek74ceek74 Posts: 323member

    It would suck if Bromwich has an iTunes account.  wink wink

  • Reply 10 of 22
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,455member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ceek74 View Post

     

    It would suck if Bromwich has an iTunes account.  wink wink


     

    Load his account with Justin Bieber.

  • Reply 11 of 22
    agramonteagramonte Posts: 345member

    Apple needs to stop crying. They went and fought the Feds and lost, now they getting the screws put to them. The feds do not care if they are Apple just like they do not care how big FIFA thinks they are. This is just going to make things worst.

  • Reply 12 of 22
    penchantedpenchanted Posts: 1,070member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by agramonte View Post

     

    Apple needs to stop crying. They went and fought the Feds and lost, now they getting the screws put to them. The feds do not care if they are Apple just like they do not care how big FIFA thinks they are. This is just going to make things worst.




    Bromwich has gone beyond the court's mission of monitoring Apple's e-books arrangements as the court's "give pause" comment highlights. I wouldn't be surprised if the court doesn't send a memo to Bromwich reminding him of his mission.

  • Reply 13 of 22
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,521member
    rob53 wrote: »
    Why does anyone think the court system will rule against itself? They're just like FIFA and will do whatever it takes to keep their good old boys and girls club running. What we really need is a congressional and presidential investigation into the entire judicial system. This is the only way to get the third branch of the government to actually play by the rules.

    Of course, we all know this will never happen because the entire government is incapable of doing anything resembling consistent operation.

    The constitutional separation of powers would make such an investigation unlikely.
  • Reply 14 of 22
    plovellplovell Posts: 786member

    Simplest solution for Apple right now would be to exit the e-books market.

     

    That would automatically remove Bromwich and all the other cruft.

     

    I don't think they're making enough money to justify continued involvement in e-books.

  • Reply 15 of 22
    -los-los Posts: 14member
    I wish apple could catch a break on this.
  • Reply 16 of 22
    jessijessi Posts: 302member

    Apple needs to take this threat seriously.  They need to recognize that it's only going to get worse now that they are the largest company in the world.

     

    They should take everything they're spending on Bromwich and other intrusive government nonsense, and then match it, or match it three times and put that money into Libertarian organizations and pro-capitalist candidates (who are also not anti-gay.)

     

    Basically Libertarians are the ones who are pro freedom, including gay marriage and letting businesses like Apple compete.

     

    The legal system will never give them justice because the purpose of politics is to rip off the productive class. 

     

    So they need to fund alternative political parties and candidates. 

     

    That's the only way they can make a dent.

  • Reply 17 of 22
    ybfmiamiybfmiami Posts: 32member
    IBooks is like a useless limb on the Apple tree, onto which an abusive blood sucking leech, Bromwich, has attached itself. Apple should just get rid of IBooks. It seems to be more trouble than its worth.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    What Apple really needs is a way to make natural-sounding audiobooks. Who has time to read? Give me the option of an audiobook that I can listen to during my drive to work and I'll take it every time.
  • Reply 19 of 22
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post

     

    Does this indicate a negative ruling on the appeal is forthcoming?  Sure hope not.


     

    If they are, it could also be a sign that it's going Apple's way, = no point in sorting a replacement, he will be pulled when the appeal is declared in due course.

     

    Hope we all know soon either way. It's going on so long, this monitoring etc could be over before the decision is released. :grumble:

  • Reply 20 of 22
    puggslypuggsly Posts: 17member
    I love the tone of this article.

    "entering into any unsavory deals with publishers"

    "switch to a so-called "agency" pricing model"

    The deals Apple entered into were 100% legal deals. The agency pricing model is a totally legal model. The judge simply assumed that because Apple knew the publishers wanted to stop Amazon from selling books below cost (and switching to the agency model would do that) that some how that proved they "conspired" with the publishers to make this happen. Why she didn't see it as just as likely that Apple offered the publishers exactly what "THEY" wanted and exactly what Apple has offered every other electronic good they sell form iTunes, I will never understand.

    I hope this gets thrown out and both Cote and Bromwich are discredited for being the idiots they are.
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