Apple’s court-appointed ebook antitrust monitor Michael Bromwich filed a new report on Monday, detailing a marked improvement in his interactions with Apple. In the 77-page report, Bromwich says that Apple has been more cooperative in the last couple months.
Bromwich was initially appointed by Judge Denise Cote to act as an external compliance monitor in October 2013, but his first months on the job were largely fruitless. Apple spent many months fighting with Bromwich, the DOJ, and with Judge Cote, trying to prevent Bromwich from doing his job.
Apple’s stalling tactics culminated in an appeal to delay the appointment of the monitor until after Apple filed their appeal to overturn the ruling which appointed the monitor, but that failed. Having lost the appeal in February which would have blocked the monitor from doing his job, Apple has spent the past couple months grudgingly cooperating with Bromwich.
Bromwich said in the report that his relations with Apple had “significantly improved over the past six weeks” but that in spite of the improvement Apple was still dragging their feet (my interpretation). The monitoring team had conducted only brief interviews of a limited number of Apple employees, most of whom were lawyers, and almost none of the senior management have been interviewed. The report goes on to note that while “Apple has made a promising start to enhancing its Antitrust Compliance Program”, the electronics company still has much work to do.
Nevertheless, Bromwich was confident that Apple is heading in the right direction. “We have started to receive more information, we have seen a greater commitment to resolve lingering disputes, and we are starting to see the original pledges of cooperation and collaboration, which for many months were at odds with the company’s actions, fulfilled,” Bromwich wrote. “If that continues, the reset this Court sought will have taken place, and we will be on a path to fulfilling the important role the Court appointed us to perform.”
Michael Bromwich was appointed as an antitrust monitor following the July 2013 price fixing lawsuit brought by the DOJ and states’ attorneys general. This eloquence of lawyers argued that Apple had conspired with 5 US publishers in December 2009 and January 2010 to raise ebook prices. The 5 publishers (HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster) settled before the case went to trial, but Apple took the path of the righteous, defended their actions in court, and lost.
image by Andrew Morrell Photography