Having lost its e-book antitrust case to the U.S. Department of Justice last year, Apple has since tried to ignore its legal requirements and block a court-appointed monitor from doing his job. This week, a federal judge denied Apple's request and strongly admonished the company for its behavior.
"I had no idea that Apple was doing its best to slow down, if not stonewall the process," US District Judge Denise Cote said during Monday's hearing. "I think it's extraordinarily sad."
Apple was found guilty last July of organizing and leading a conspiracy with publishers to raise and fix the price of e-books, illegally harming consumers as it tried to steal market share from the market leader, Amazon. In September, Judge Cote ordered Apple to change the way it deals with publishers and assigned an external monitor to ensure that the belligerent firm complies with a ruling that it has refused to acknowledge as correct.
After months of attempting to prevent the monitor from doing his job, Apple this week was admonished by Judge Cote, who ordered the firm to cooperate. Apple, which is waiting to appeal the original antitrust ruling, says it will appeal this latest ruling as well.
Apple has two complaints about the monitor. It says that the monitor has been "aggressively" trying to interview top Apple executives, including CEO Tim Cook and board member Al Gore, whom Apple lawyers claim the monitor is "fixated" on. And it says the monitor's hourly fee rate of $1,100 is overly expensive, with the first two weeks of fees coming to over $138,000. Judge Cote curtly denounced that latter claim, noting that "lawyers are expensive" and that Apple pays its own law firm in this same case $1,800 per hour, the highest rate in the country.
The monitor, attorney Michael Bromwich, says that Apple has given him "far less access than I have ever received during a comparable period of time in the three other monitorships I have conducted."
Apple first tried to disqualify the monitor in November, arguing that he had a personal bias against the company and engaged in "grossly inappropriate behavior" by filing a declaration that disputed Apple's claims against him. (Try to follow the logic on that one.) This week, Judge Cote said there was "nothing improper" about this declaration.