Late last week Apple filed a brief which complained about the activities of Michael Bromwich, the court appointed anti-trust monitor. Apple wasn't too happy with the fees he was charging nor with the way Bromwich was going about his business (he wanted to meet most of the senior management).
Apple's filing got a lot of attention in the blogosphere over Thanksgiving weekend, but it appears that the Judge Cote wasn't as impressed. She issued a ruling today that basically told Apple to follow procedure and stop grandstanding (my word, not hers).
The judge noted that there was an established process for complaints or conflicts, and that Apple should have directed their communications to the Dept of Justice. “Objections are to be conveyed in writing to the United States and the Plaintiff States within ten calendar days after the action giving rise to the objection,” Cote wrote. They should only have requested a conference with the judge if Apple and the DOJ were unable to resolve the issue.
Judge Cote declined to comment upon Apple's complaint about Bromwich's $1,100 hourly fee or the nearly $140 thousand worth of billable hours which he had generated, but she did order only that “any compensation shall be on reasonable and customary terms.”
And here is where I came to the conclusion that Apple's complaints were ridiculous. $1,100 an hour might seem like a princely sum, but not when you compare it to what Apple's outside law firm charges. According to:
Many of the top partners at Apple's own outside counsel on the e-book matter, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, bill more than $1,000 an hour, and its appellate ace, Ted Olson, reportedly charged $1,800 per hour on one bankruptcy matter in 2012.
That puts Apple's gripe in a different light, doesn't it?
It's kinda silly to complain about a senior partner of a DC law firm charging about the same as what Apple's own lawyers might charge, but that is Apple for you.
For the most part Apple went home empty-handed, but the judge did grant one of Apple's pleas. Apple had complained about a ruling dated 21 November that enabled the external monitor to communicate directly with the judge on his duties, without counsel present. Judge Cote reversed herself and ordered that there will be no “ex parte communication by the Monitor with the Court regarding the performance of his duties as Monitor.”
But that is all Apple got, which makes me wonder why exactly they filed the brief. Were the lawyers really that ignorant on proper procedure? I don't think so, and that's why I label this latest shenanigan as grandstanding. I think Apple didn't expect the judge to do anything; they just wanted the publicity.
IMO this latest development casts Bromwich's letter to Apple in a different light. Last week, when Apple was complaining to the court, Bromwich sent Apple a letter () which discussed Apple's efforts to control his actions, which AllthingsD summed up as saying:
- You people seem to think I’m working for you. “Apple has sought for the last month to manage our relationship as though we are its outside counsel or consultant,” he wrote in a letter to Cook and his board last week.
- My fees are reasonable, and you have no idea what a reasonable fee looks like. Also, it doesn’t matter if you think my fees are reasonable, because you don’t get to negotiate them: You just pay them. The court will approve them.
At this point he is the more reasonable party, I think.
It's almost looks as if Apple doesn't realize that they lost the anti-trust trial a couple months back, doesn't it?
image by rocketdogphoto