The Washington Post

Apple doesn’t have to deal with antitrust monitor until appeals court rules

The battle between Apple and the Justice Department ticked on as a federal appellate judge on Tuesday granted Apple a temporary reprieve from having a court-ordered monitor in its midst.

Apple has been working to oust the monitor, who was appointed following a ruling that the company had conspired with publishers to raise e-book prices. The company argued that no monitor should be in place while it appeals that appointment.

Tuesday’s decision from Judge Raymond Lohier Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York, means that Apple will have a short reprieve as a three-judge panel decides the larger question of whether there should be a monitor at all.

U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote, who ruled last summer that Apple had violated federal antitrust laws, had denied Apple’s petition to delay the monitor. She agreed to postpone her order last week.

Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona declined to comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s another small step in a fight between Apple and the Justice Department over the repercussions of Cote’s ruling. Following that decision, Apple filed an appeal, but it was still assigned an antitrust monitor in October to look at its e-books business.

The monitor, former Justice Department inspector general Michael Bromwich, quickly drew Apple’s ire.

The company complained to the court that he charged a rate of as much as $1,100 per hour. Bromwich’s activities also prompted complaints from Apple for asking to speak with top Apple brass, including chief executive Tim Cook and board member Al Gore, the former vice president.

In court documents, Apple argued that Bromwich had overstepped his authority by demanding to speak with Cook and Gore, saying neither have a hand in the day-to-day operations of the e-book businesses. For his part, Bromwich said Apple was not cooperating with his monitoring efforts.

Apple, he said, had granted, “far less access than I have ever received during a comparable period of time in the three other monitorships I have conducted.”

The news comes as Apple is set to report earnings next week, with analysts expectations already running high for its traditionally successful holiday quarter.

A new report from Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty estimated that the firm sold between 54 million and 55 million units in the final quarter of 2013. That would outstrip analyst consensus of 53 million units, CNET reported.

Follow The Post’s new tech blog, The Switch, where technology and policy connect.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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