Apple’s request to remove court-appointed ebooks antitrust monitor rejected

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A motion by Apple to halt the operations of a court-appointed antitrust monitor has been rejected, the Wall Street Journal reports. The lawyer, Michael Bromwich, was appointed by the court to ensure the compliance Apple’s iBook platform with antitrust laws. Apple previously petitioned the court to have Bromwich removed from his post, believing that his $1,100/hour legal fees were leading him to take undue investigative steps solely for the purpose of overcharging the Cupertino company.

Bromwich was temporarily taken off of Apple’s case, but subsequently returned to continue his duties. Apple then accused Bromwich of going beyond his legal authority and requested once again that he be removed from the company’s case. Today the court ruled that Apple’s request would have resulted in Bromwich being unable to execute his legal duties, and thus rejected the injunction.

The full ruling is embedded below:

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Apple granted temporary relief from external monitor in ebooks antitrust dispute

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In what is quickly becoming the next big ongoing back and forth between Apple and [insert third party here] of 2014, a new development has unfolded in the antitrust dispute over Apple’s iBooks practices. Michael Bromwich, the external monitor assigned to ensure Apple complies to antitrust laws relating to its iBooks program, has been temporarily removed, Reuters reports, following an “administrative stay” granted to Apple following a recent complaint filed by the Cupertino tech company against the attorney.

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Apple eBook price-fixing lawsuits hit Canada following DOJ suit

Following an investigation into alleged eBook price-fixing, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and publishers Macmillan and Penguin earlier this month, who refused to settle. Other publishers, including Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster, settled and reached an agreement to return Amazon to its previous wholesale model and dismantle Apple’s agency model. The settlement also included agreements with select states that would see $51 million in restitution paid to those who purchased eBooks through Apple’s platform. Now, several Canadian publications are reporting class-action lawsuits were filed against Apple and the five publishers throughout Canada.

Lawyer Normand Painchaud spoke with The Montreal Gazette about his class-action suit filed in Quebec Superior Court and talked about two others filed in Ontario and British Columbia:

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US Federal Trade Commission subpoenas Apple in Google antitrust probe over iPhone search

According to a report from Bloomberg (via AllThingsD), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission subpoenaed Apple as part of its antitrust investigation of Google. There are not many details currently, but the report claims the FTC is interested in Apple’s agreement with the company to use Google as its primary default search engine on iOS devices.

The agency’s request for documents includes the agreements that made Google the preferred search engine on Apple’s mobile devices, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly and declined to be identified. Google rivals such as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have criticized these agreements as anticompetitive.

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The Justice Department probing Apple and five major US publishers over alleged price fixing of electronic books

The Wall Street Journal reports that the United States Justice Department threatened to launch an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the nation’s biggest book publishers over an alleged price-fixing that has resulted in higher prices of e-books.

Several of the parties have held talks to settle the antitrust case and head off a potentially damaging court battle. If successful, such a settlement could have wide-ranging repercussions for the industry, potentially leading to cheaper e-books for consumers. However, not every publisher is in settlement discussions.

The government is specifically aiming to probe CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster Inc., Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group, Pearson PLC’s Penguin Group (USA), Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, and HarperCollins Publishers Inc., a unit of News Corp. that also owns The Wall Street Journal.

At question: The so-called agency model where publishers freely set prices of their titles on Apple’s iBookstore before the Cupertino company reaps 30 percent of the proceeds. The freedom to pick the price has led most—if not all— publishers to allegedly raise prices of e-books across the board as they feared customers would get accustomed to inexpensive $9.99 Kindle books from Amazon.

Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch already gave a deposition to the U.S. Justice Department. He said abandoning the agency model would allow a single party to achieve dominance in the marketplace, alluding to Amazon. According to the people familiar with the matter, the U.S. Justice Department believes that Apple and the publishers “acted in concert to raise prices across the industry, and is prepared to sue them for violating federal antitrust laws.”

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Apple, Google, and five other companies must face lawsuit over no-poaching agreements

Late last week we told you that the U.S. Justice Department apparently had evidence that Apple, along along with Google, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, Intel, and Lucasfilms, entered “no-poach” agreements as part of an antitrust investigation from 2010. U.S. District Judge Lucy H Koh made a statement yesterday at the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., confirming the companies must face a lawsuit. According to the report from Bloomberg, Koh said she would allow plaintiffs to re-file their complaint even if an initial request by the defendants to dismiss the claims is granted.  

Judge Koh’s decision yesterday will result in Google and the other companies having to provide a detailed account of the agreements made with other companies. They must also allow lawyers to take depositions. One lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Joseph Saveri, said, “We get to see what really happened,” claiming the case could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Google provided statements to Bloomberg claiming they have “always actively and aggressively recruited top talent,” while the others have declined to comment.
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