You may recall that around this time last year, the relationship between Apple and its court-appointed iBooks antitrust monitor had improved. Now? Not so much.
Tension between Apple and its court-appointed antitrust monitor continues to mount, as Michael Bromwich has accused the iPad maker of reducing its cooperating with his reviews of the company.
Bromwich has been assigned by Federal Judge Denise Cote to keep tabs on Apple, following an antitrust lawsuit against the company that was won by the U.S. government. Reuters reports that recent months have seen the relationship between Bromwich and the Cupertino go from bad to worse.
Bromwich reported to Judge Cote that Apple had recently taken on a more “adversarial tone” in recent interactions with him, adding that no interviews had been conducted since January, as Apple had rejected his requests.
For its part, Apple has taken issue with the extent of Bromwich’s inquiries, alleging they go far beyond the original intent of the court. Some observers have agreed with Apple, as in January, The Wall Street Journal’s opinion page slammed Bromwich for his approach, calling it, “major abuse, even by the standards of modern antitrust.”
the Journal even suggest Apple should sue Bromwich over the investigation, which has so far cost the company over $2.65 million, and has involved investigations into groups inside the company not related to e-books, such as Apple’s Siri, Maps, and hardware engineering.
Part of the U.S. government’s ruling against Apple barred the company from entering into any underhanded deals with publishers, and Bromwich was put in place as a monitor to ensure Apple complies.
Apple continues to fight the case, insisting no illegal dealings occurred between itself and book publishers.
The government’s case stemmed form the pricing model Apple and its publishing partners used to price e-books, the so-called “agency” pricing model. That model prevented publishers from selling the same titles at a lower price elsewhere.
At the time of the iBooks launch, Amazon, who then sold nine out of ten e-books sold, used the “wholesale model,” which gave retailers such as Amazon the power to set pricing, selling below wholesale cost if they chose to.