What’s The Verdict: Apple Inc. is bumping heads with the DOJ and court-appointed ‘monitor’
Apple probably sees it as a babysitter. However you may see it, Apple is under the magnifying glass after a a gentleman by the name of Michael Bromwich was appointed to be its “monitor.” It is widely recognized knowledge that Apple is known for being extremely successful, but on the other hand also has a reputation for being a bit too secretive.
There was an ongoing lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against Apple based on allegations of the company conspiring with publishers to illegally increase the price of e-books. This is where Bromwich came in, after U.S. District Judge Denise Cote hired him as a full-time Antitrust Compliance Officer. Bromwich was essentially hired to keep an eye on what was going on behind closed doors and ensure that antitrust laws were not being violated. Not surprisingly, Apple objected to such a measure arguing that it was far too extreme.
Within a week of Bromwich being hired, there came a plethora of issues and Apple and Bromwich were going head to head on pretty much everything. For example. Bromwich went directly to the board of directors for interviews, which Apple wasn’t happy about. In addition, there were issues regarding billing, invoices, and overall fees. While Bromwich wanted a measly $1,265 per hour, he had billed Apple for $138,432 within two weeks. (I wish I could bill for that much!) Even though the computer giant can afford to pay up, they of course aren’t giving in so easily.
In order to settle the antitrust liability, Apple has agreed to a deal with the DOJ and 33 states that supplies up to $450 million. This would only happen IF a federal appeals court affirmed Apple’s liability for conspiring on e-book pricing, which is still pending. The settlement money amount is entirely dependent upon the court’s determination.
Meanwhile, a separate appeal regarding the “monitor” went before the 2nd Circuit judge Dennis Jacobs. Apple finds Bromwich to be overly aggressive, which calls into question the fairness and integrity of the courts because he is court-appointed. The hope is that court-appointed officers always act as a neutral decision maker. Do you agree?
The case of the e-books and pricing may be coming to a close soon; however, there will be more to come regarding the appointed “monitor” to prevent abuse of antitrust laws. How do you feel about this case? Stay tuned for more on What’s The Verdict!