Apple Monitor Says Contentious Relationship Improved

Apple Inc.’s court-appointed electronics books monitor Michael Bromwich said a “contentious” relationship between him and the company has recently improved with antitrust compliance efforts now underway at the iPhone maker.

Bromwich filed his first report yesterday to U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan, who appointed him to oversee the Cupertino, California-based company’s compliance with antitrust rules after she concluded in July that Apple schemed with publishers to limit competition and raise e-book prices.

Apple faces as much as $840 million in state and consumer antitrust claims in an electronic books lawsuit that’s scheduled to go to trial later this year. In February, the company failed to persuade a federal appeals court panel in Manhattan to halt Bromwich’s oversight while it challenges a series of rulings Cote issued last year.

Bromwich said his team experienced “unexpected delays in its efforts to evaluate Apple’s antitrust compliance policies, procedures and training” following his October appointment. After the appeals court ruling, his team attempted to “reset” the relationship, which resulted in constructive responses from Apple, he said.

“The relationship between Apple and the monitoring team has significantly improved over the past six weeks and has become more focused on achieving the goal of enhancing Apple’s Antitrust Compliance Program,” Bromwich said.

The monitor, a former U.S. Justice Department inspector general, said his team has conducted only a limited number of interviews of a small number of Apple employees, none of whom were Apple’s senior executives.

“Our unsuccessful attempts to speak with senior members of the company are of particular importance given this court’s findings regarding the involvement of senior personnel in the events underlying the e-books litigation,” Bromwich said.

The case is U.S. v. Apple Inc., 12-cv-02826, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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