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Apple loses attempt to block ebooks antitrust expert

Judge resists push to part with legal monitor
Tue Jan 14 2014, 12:38
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GADGET DESIGNER Apple has lost its attempt to block a certain antitrust expert from its ebooks business in the US.

While Apple wants to exclude lawyer and settlement expert Michael Bromwich for a number of reasons, a judge ruled that he should be allowed to stay.

Reuters reported that Manhattan US District Judge Denise Cote said that she could see "nothing improper" in Bromwich so far, adding that she wants the "monitorship to succeed for Apple".

Apple has always denied allegations of ebook price fixing, and stood firm about this since the case was raised in 2012. In 2013 Apple went to trial to defend itself against US Department of Justice allegations of collusion with publishers.

"The DOJ's accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true. The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry," it said in April.

"Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we've allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore."

In court the firm warned about the "chilling" impact that a ruling against it would have on the publishing industry. Benevolently it said that a negative ruling would "send shudders through the business community".

However, it lost that case and an inhouse monitor was part of a settlement. It has not been a cosy relationship though, and both parties have complained about the behaviour of the other.

Apple had concerns about Bromwich and claimed that he aggressively pursued executives with his questions. It was also worried that he is earning too much, claiming that he makes $1,100 an hour. The judge remained unmoved.

Apple has a couple of days to respond to the judge's decision. µ


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