February 10, 2014 / 9:48 PM / 6 years ago

Apple loses latest bid to block e-books antitrust monitor

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc (AAPL.O) on Monday lost its latest bid to put a court-appointed antitrust monitor on hold, after a federal appeals court rejected its argument that the monitor’s work was causing it irreparable harm.

The Apple logo is pictured at its flagship retail store in San Francisco, California January 27, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

In a brief order, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said that monitor Michael Bromwich may continue to examine Apple’s antitrust compliance policies while the company pursues a broader appeal seeking to remove him altogether.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote installed Bromwich in October, three months after she found Apple liable for conspiring with five publishers to raise e-book prices.

Since then, Apple has fought a losing battle to put Bromwich on ice, complaining that he has aggressively and improperly sought interviews with key executives and broad access to company documents beyond the scope of his duties.

In a compromise of sorts that partially addressed Apple’s concerns, the 2nd Circuit’s order made it clear that Bromwich’s powers are not limitless.

The court noted that lawyers for the Department of Justice agreed during oral arguments that Bromwich is not permitted to investigate whether Apple employees are complying with antitrust laws. Instead, the government said, Bromwich’s responsibilities are limited to assessing Apple’s compliance policies and its efforts to disseminate those policies to its workers.

With the understanding that “the monitor will conduct his activities within the bounds” of those duties, the appeals court said it would deny Apple’s request for a stay pending appeal.

That appeal, which is challenging both Cote’s liability finding as well as her decision to appoint a monitor, will likely take months to resolve.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Justice Department said it had no immediate comment.

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

Reporting by Nate Raymond and Joseph Ax. Editing by Andre Grenon and Leslie Adler

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