Following Apple losing yet another round in their ebook antitrust lawsuit earlier this month, Judge Denise Cote has seen fit to appoint a magistrate to referee Apple's future disputes with Michael Bromwich, the court-appointed external monitor.
According to PW, Magistrate Judge Michael Dolinger is now stuck with the unenviable task of overseeing the resolution of “any disputes that arise in connection with Apple’s external monitor, subject to appeal to this Court.”
The appointment of Dolinger follows several months of complaints on the part of Apple, as well as numerous meetings, court dates, conference calls which accomplished little to resolve the differences between Apple, the DOJ, and the court-appointed monitor. The disagreements culminated in a 10 February decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld Cote’s order that Apple must fully comply with the monitor provision.
Earlier this month the the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Cote's earlier rulings on Apple, in effect saying little more than Apple has to comply with the external monitor and that the monitor has to stay within the bounds of the court ruling. "We agree with that interpretation of the district court’s order," the Second Circuit held. "In addition, we take counsel’s statement as a formal representation that appellees also accept that interpretation."
It would seem to me that Judge Cote appointed Dolinger with the goal of short-circuiting Apple's future complaints, thus ensuring that any disputes are resolved impartially and without influence from Judge Cote.
I know that a number of my readers have accused her of a bias, so I am sure they will be pleased to have an impartial referee step in. This will be Apple's chance to show that their complaints aren't merely obstructionism but rather valid issues that have been ignored.
Apple has complained about his fees, conduct, document requests, but aside from a couple minor procedural issues Apple has not won any of the fights it picked with the monitor, the DOJ, and Judge Cote. But now that Dolinger has been asked to act as a referee, I'm sure that we'll see justice be served.
Along with appointing the magistrate, Judge Cote also instructed Apple to turn over all of the documents which had been requested by Bromwich. Some of the documents had been requested as late as last week, while other document requests date to as early as October.
Background: Today's ruling is the latest development in an ongoing legal dispute that stems from the launch of the iPad in early 2010. In the month before the launch, Apple negotiated with 5 US publishers and signed them as launch partners for the new iBooks app which launched at the same time as the iPad.
Following a 2 year investigation by the Dept of Justice and 50 states' attorneys general, the DOJ filed an antitrust lawsuit in early 2012 against Apple and the 5 publishers. The publishers settled before going to trial, but Apple chose to defend itself in court. After a weeks long trial in June 2013, Apple lost and was required to give up certain controls over iBooks and work with an external monitor to ensure that the antitrust violations do not recur.
image by Joan Kamberai