Apple, U.S. clash in court over e-books antitrust monitor

NEW YORK Tue Feb 4, 2014 11:16pm IST

A man poses for a photo in front of the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Files

A man poses for a photo in front of the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York, December 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc (AAPL.O) urged a federal appeals court on Tuesday to put a court-appointed antitrust monitor on hold, arguing that his efforts were harming the company's business.

The iPhone maker asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to halt monitor Michael Bromwich's work while the court considers Apple's bid to remove him altogether, a process that could last several months.

"We can't turn back the clock," said Theodore Boutrous, a lawyer for Apple, in explaining why the company would suffer irreparable harm if the monitor is allowed to continue before the appeals court has a chance to decide whether his appointment was appropriate in the first place.

But a U.S. Department of Justice lawyer told the court that the monitor was essential to ensure that Apple complies with the law, after a federal judge last summer found the company liable for conspiring with five publishers to raise e-book prices. Apple, the lawyer said, cannot be trusted to comply on its own.

"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," Finnuala Tessier said.

The three-judge panel said it would take Apple's request under advisement. For now, the monitor's work is on hold until the court determines whether to grant Apple a longer stay.

The hearing followed months of legal wrangling over Bromwich, who was appointed by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in October to oversee Apple's compliance policies in light of her finding that Apple had illegally fixed e-book prices. Cote rejected Apple's bid to stop the monitor's work in January, and the company appealed to the 2nd Circuit.

Apple has accused Bromwich of aggressively and unnecessarily pursuing multiple interviews with top executives, including Jonathan Ive, the company's chief designer. It has also complained that Bromwich's fees and duties would cost it millions of dollars.

But the judges seemed skeptical of those arguments, noting that Apple is one of the world's richest companies.

"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," Judge Gerard Lynch said.

Apple also argued that under Cote's order, Bromwich's powers are far too broad, permitting him unfettered access to executives and documents.

Under questioning from the judges, Tessier said the monitor's duties are limited to ensuring that effective policies are developed and implemented. He is constrained from investigating instances in which the company may have violated antitrust law and must turn over any such evidence to the court, she said.

Lynch then suggested that the court could issue an order making those limitations clear in an effort to assuage Apple's concerns. But Boutrous said the company would still oppose the monitorship as unnecessary.

The case is U.S. v. Apple, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 14-60.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

FILED UNDER:
  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Pending Reform

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Power Theft

Power Theft

India to invest $4 billion to tackle power theft  Full Article 

Debt Funds

Debt Funds

India monitors foreign flows into debt funds, may tighten rules  Full Article 

Bulgari Back in India

Bulgari Back in India

CEO: we shouldn’t have left India so we’re back  Full Article 

 Hindu "Modi-fication"

Hindu "Modi-fication"

Fears grow about Hindu "Modi-fication" of education  Full Article 

Weak Credit

Weak Credit

Hard to hit tax revenue target, credit weak - Jaitley  Full Article 

China Rate Cut

China Rate Cut

China surprises with interest rate cut to spur growth  Full Article 

Gold Imports

Gold Imports

RBI cautious on response to gold import surge  Full Article 

Economic Corridor

Economic Corridor

China commits $45.6 billion for economic corridor with Pakistan  Full Article 

Overseas Funds

Overseas Funds

RBI says overseas borrowed funds can be parked with banks in India  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage