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Judge Appoints Monitor for Apple's Business Dealings

Judge Appoints Monitor for Apple's Business Dealings
By Seth Fitzgerald

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Attorney Michael Bromwich has been chosen by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote to review Apple's business dealings. Cote ruled Apple guilty of price fixing in July, finding that Apple had worked with five major publishers to raise e-book prices and drive out the competition. The publishers chose to settle discreetly but Apple fought the ruling.
 



Apple has been provided an external monitor to review many of its business-related matters as a result of its e-book price fixing scandal. Michael Bromwich, an attorney who recently dealt with offshore drilling issues for the U.S., will be the person monitoring Apple and its deals with other companies.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote is responsible for putting forth the external monitor requirement after her court took on the initial e-book pricing lawsuit. Bernard Nigro, head of the antitrust department at the New York law firm Fried Frank, was appointed to help the court find the best person for the job, since Apple is a large company to monitor.

The Monitor

Bromwich was one of two potential monitors proposed by the Justice Department. Since Bromwich's main focus as an attorney is internal investigations and monitoring, it makes sense that he ended up being the best person for the job.

This is not the first time that Bromwich has taken on massive jobs for the United States. He was appointed to monitor offshore drilling by President Obama in 2010. However, many people argue that Bromwich and his fellow monitors did not do a good job monitoring the drilling.

"I am deeply honored to have been selected by the court to serve as the monitor in this matter," said Bromwich, after the decision was announced Thursday. Cote has said Bromwich was "well qualified" to take on the task.

Price Fixing

The entire case comes as a result of Apple working with multiple e-book publishers to strike deals that not only hurt other retailers, but also forced buyers to pay more than necessary for titles purchased through Apple's iTunes store.

Cote ruled Apple guilty of price fixing in July, finding that Apple had worked with five different publishers to raise e-book prices and drive out the competition. The publishers were able to settle discreetly but Apple fought the ruling and as a result, made headlines around the world.

Amazon has been quiet regarding the e-book pricing scandal, but was surely Apple's largest competitor as it continued to push e-book prices higher than the ones found on Amazon's Web site.

Despite the publishers settling with regulators out of the spotlight, Apple continues to deny that it was ever involved in price fixing. Therefore, the company is now appealing the most recent ruling handed down by Judge Cote and the Justice Department.

Apple is dealing with a permanent injunction as a result of the illegal deals, meaning that the company is unable to make exclusive deals with publishers. This injunction may last as long as four years, assuming that Apple is unable to get the ruling overturned.

Cote went as far as to require that Apple make sure its prices are as low as possible when compared against its competitors in the e-book market. On top of that, the tech giant may have to refund customers that paid more than necessary for their books.
 

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