After two years of tense work, the monitor appointed to oversee the development of Apple’s antitrust compliance program has ended his work. The court-ordered monitorship was due to expire on October 16, and in a brief opinion and order issued yesterday, Judge Denise Cote declined to extend the term, officially closing this chapter in Apple’s e-book antitrust case.
In a joint letter to the court, the U.S. Department of Justice and Apple agreed that an extension was not necessary, despite the stiff resistance the monitor, Michael Bromwich, had faced from Apple. In her order, Cote acknowledged that “the Monitor has faced a challenging relationship with Apple,” but concluded that Browmwich “persevered and made numerous recommendations to Apple for the improvement of its antitrust compliance program.”
Cote noted that Apple has implemented “the vast majority” of Bromwich’s recommendations, and she praised him for performing “a significant public service in a difficult environment.”
Under Cote’s September 4, 2013 final order in its e-book price-fixing case, Apple was required to implement an antitrust training and compliance program. Bromwich was later appointed as an external monitor with a narrow mandate to evaluate whether Apple’s new policies and procedures were “reasonably designed to detect and prevent violations of the antitrust laws” as well as whether Apple’s antitrust training program was “sufficiently comprehensive and effective.”
Apple, however, bristled over Bromwich’s work from the beginning, and even sought to have him disqualified. Apple claimed Bromwich acted as “an independent investigator" whose role was "to ferret out any wrongdoing, all at Apple’s expense.” Apple also complained about Bromwich’s fee.
DoJ attorneys, meanwhile, accused Apple of openly obstructing Bromwich's work, and of waging a "campaign of character assassination" against him. "Apple simply does not want any monitor whatsoever," DoJ attorneys argued, accusing Apple of “manufacturing baseless objections” to stymie the monitor’s work.
In June of this year, a federal appeals court affirmed Judge Cote’s verdict finding Apple liable for its role in a 2010 e-book price-fixing scheme with five publishers. Apple has until October 28 to file its request to have that decision reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.