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Apple gripes about e-books antitrust monitor

The tech giant and its court-appointed antitrust monitor are having a hard time seeing eye to eye. Apple is objecting to the lawyer's "excessive fees" and "inappropriate manner."

Desiree DeNunzio Editor
Desiree DeNunzio is the gift guide editor for CNET's Commerce team. When she's not writing and editing, she's either hiking through the redwoods or curled up with a good book and a lazy dog.
Expertise Desiree has been a writer and editor for the past two decades, covering everything from top-selling Amazon deals to apparel, pets and home goods. Credentials
  • Desiree's previous work has appeared in various print and online publications including Search Engine Land, PCWorld, Wired magazine and PBS MediaShift.
Desiree DeNunzio
2 min read
Just a month after a US judge appointed an external monitor to keep Apple in compliance with antitrust laws, the tech giant is raising a big stink about the lawyer's fees and other issues.

Following Apple's loss in court earlier this year, Judge Denise Cote tapped former Assistant US Attorney and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich to keep tabs on the company for the next two years. Bromwich's job as a monitor is to work from inside Apple to maintain the company's compliance with US antitrust laws.

But now the two sides are having a hard time seeing eye to eye. That's not surprising, considering that Apple is known for its culture of secrecy, and Bromwich hails from a different background. He filled a similar, independent-monitor role within the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia a little more than a decade ago, and more recently served as part of US oversight on the oil industry.

Apple claims in its filing that it's being gouged by Bromwich. The company pointed to the $138,432 he charged for his first two weeks of work. "Mr. Bromwich appears to be simply taking advantage of the fact that there is no competition here or, in his view, any ability on the part of Apple, the subject of his authority, to push back on his demands," Apple said in a filing.

Apple said that Bromwich's hourly rate of $1,100 is "excessive," according to the filing. The company said Bromwich also is retaining a partner at law firm Fried Frank to assist him at an hourly rate of $1,025.

In addition, Apple complained that Bromwich has stepped out of line, "operating in an unfettered and inappropriate manner." The company claimed that Bromwich's requests to interview executives and board members, including Tim Cook, Al Gore, and Jony Ive, were "premature" and not in accordance with the judge's order.

Bromwich, for his part, isn't too thrilled with Apple either. In a letter to Apple's board of directors, he complained that Apple hasn't been complying with his requests. "Our requests to meet with key Apple personnel have been largely ignored, and when not ignored the responses have been extremely slow in coming," he wrote.

He briefly mentioned the disagreement over fees, but much of the letter reiterates his disappointment with the company. "Apple has sought for the past month to manage our relationship as though we are its outside counsel or consultant, to whom it can dictate terms and conditions, and whose approval is required before we can undertake our work," he wrote.

The two years that Judge Cote asked Bromwich to monitor Apple is a shorter time span than the actual five-year injunction that Apple faces, but Cote said it can be extended by one or more one-year periods.