ebook price-fixing saga: Apple rids self of court-appointed watchdog
Judge Cote: iPhone giant has learned its lesson, put away the bright lights and gloves
The watchdog assigned to keep close tabs on Apple after it inflated ebook prices has been told to go home by a US court.
In 2013, Apple was found to have conspired with publishers to fix the prices of digital books. The Cupertino goliath was ordered by a court to allow an independent monitor into its hallowed halls and inspect it for further antitrust lawbreaking.
On Tuesday this week, Judge Denise Cote, sitting in a New York court, said the watchdog is no longer needed after two years of inspections, no sign of antitrust wrongdoing, and a few lessons learned on legal compliance.
"The Monitor has ably performed a significant public service in a difficult environment ... Apple has entirely revamped its antitrust compliance program," the judge wrote in her decision.
"It is to be hoped that this program will benefit not only the American public but Apple as well."
The decision brings an end to the tumultuous relationship between Apple and monitor Michael Bromwich, which showed signs of trouble almost as soon as Bromwich was appointed to make sure Apple was doing everything it said it would under the terms of the 2013 antitrust deal.
Apple tried to have Bromwich removed from the position on the claim he overcharged and demanded too much time of Apple execs, while Bromwich griped to the court that Apple wasn't cooperating with his investigation.
Nevertheless, the two sides managed to accomplish enough to satisfy the terms of the deal, and yesterday both agreed that the court monitor was no longer needed. As such, Bromwich's term will expire on October 16, and will not be renewed.
"The Monitor has faced a challenging relationship with Apple," Judge Cote noted. "Despite that fact, the Monitor persevered and made numerous recommendations to Apple for the improvement of its antitrust compliance program." ®