Apple May Lose Monitor in E-Book Price Fixing Lawsuit

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ibooks-iconThe U.S. Justice Department yesterday recommended that the court-appointed monitor placed on Apple during the price-fixing e-book case that began two years ago does not need to be extended (via Bloomberg). The Justice Department said that it's largely satisfied with Apple's response of reforms and compliance with the antitrust laws, even though it believes the Cupertino-based company had internal fights with the monitor assigned to them -- Michael Bromwich -- to ensure the sale of e-books went as the court appointed.

The government on Monday recommended that the monitoring not be extended. In a letter to the Manhattan federal judge who found in 2013 that Apple illegally conspired with publishers to set e-book prices, the U.S. said Apple has “now implemented meaningful antitrust policies, procedures, and training programs that were obviously lacking at the time Apple participated in and facilitated the horizontal price-fixing conspiracy found by this court.”

Apple admitted that the interactions between the company and its monitor were "rocky at times," but disagreed with the Justice Department's claim of being uncooperative. Apple ultimately feels committed to seeing the case through to the end, stating in a joint letter to U.S. District Judge Denise Cote that “Over the past two years, Apple has developed and implemented a comprehensive, engaging, and effective antitrust compliance program.”

Apple in May lost its legal challenge to the appointment of monitor Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general. The relationship between Apple and Bromwich was contentious from the start, with Apple claiming the monitor asked prematurely to interview Apple directors and submitted excessive bills. Bromwich complained of foot-dragging and lack of cooperation from Apple executives.

The case began back in 2013, when a court ruled that Apple conspired to artificially inflate e-book prices on its own iBooks store, with an estimated $500 million fine. The most recent development in the trial came in June, when Apple lost an appeal it filed last December and was fined a total of $450 million by federal judge Debra Ann Livingston.

Top Rated Comments

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65 months ago

Correct me if I'm wrong, consumers got the short end of the stick from Apple, the government sues and wins $500 million from Apple, and the consumers get...nothing? Is that right?

I'll correct you. Consumers may have gotten "the short end of the stick" from the most cursory glance at the circumstances, but in the long term, we're all getting the short end of the stick from Amazon who is running all of its competition out of business and routinely engages in punitive practices against publishers who would prefer that their books not be sold at a loss, driving down value.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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65 months ago
Correct me if I'm wrong, consumers got the short end of the stick from Apple, the government sues and wins $500 million from Apple, and the consumers get...nothing? Is that right?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
65 months ago

Correct me if I'm wrong, consumers got the short end of the stick from Apple, the government sues and wins $500 million from Apple, and the consumers get...nothing? Is that right?

No, consumers got a series of refunds and credits. If you purchased ebooks that were subject to the agency pricing, you received store credit or a check from the retailers. I received almost $30 from Amazon, and another $10ish from B&N.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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65 months ago
Fines by regulators are always a shake-down and never result in alleged victims getting anything. When you heard of the tens of billions of fines on banks resulting from the crisis, nobody fined the government or its controlled NGO mortgage companies who actually triggered the events that the banks simply endured. There is no fairness when a government is involved. Witness Russia, N Korea, China, heck, even Greece. USA as wonderful as we are, have an onerous and greedy government.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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65 months ago
I'm ok with them losing the monitor, as long as they can keep the keyboard, mouse, and the case...
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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65 months ago

Correct me if I'm wrong, consumers got the short end of the stick from Apple, the government sues and wins $500 million from Apple, and the consumers get...nothing? Is that right?

The government just wanted their cut.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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