Apple’s Appeal for Reprieve From Antitrust Monitor Doesn’t Win Sympathy

Source: Apple.com

Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) e-book fiasco, in which the company was found liable for conspiring five different publishers to raise the prices of e-books, has resulted in potential fines of as much as $840 million for state and consumer antitrust claims. Now, the tech giant is attempting to shake off its court-appointed monitor, according to the Wall Street Journal.

On Tuesday, the company made a case before a panel of three judges in New York to extend the reprieve of oversight by the monitor, who Apple accuses of overbilling (the lawyer charges $1,000 a day for his services) and of harming the company’s business. The company has made a bid to remove monitor Michael Bromwich altogether, but argued that he should be suspended while the court considers Apple’s request, a process which could potentially take several months.

Last month, a U.S. District Judge, Denise Cote, denied Apple’s request to temporarily halt the monitor’s oversight while the case continues its way through the appeals court. Thus, Apple felt compelled to appeal to the Second Circuit on Tuesday.

Apple’s request was met with little sympathy. A U.S. Justice Department lawyer told the court that the monitor was critical to ensuring the tech company complies with antitrust laws. “The preliminary injunction demands that Apple fully understands why and how it needs to comply with antitrust laws, not a year from now, but today,” the lawyer, Finnuala Tessier said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Judge Gerard Lynch took a similar view of Apple’s bid to remove the monitor, saying 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,” he said. Another judge on the panel, Judge Guido Calabresi retorted, “the government has other things to do,” per the Chicago Tribune.

The three-judge panel didn’t make an immediate decision. Instead, the panel simply said it would take the company’s bid under advisement, and would continue to put the monitor’s work on hold until the court makes a decision regarding a longer stay.

Apple introduced e-books in 2010 in an effort to help boost the iPad’s allure, showcasing it’s ability to act as a reading tablet. Sales from e-books, music, movies, and software and services were $12.9 billion in 2012, comprising 8.2 percent of Apple’s total revenue that year.

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