Let’s ring in the new year with some news on the Apple antitrust case. Earlier this week Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly reported on a couple of matters pertaining to the case. First, Judge Cote turned down Apple’s request to have more time to depose Stanford economist Roger Noll, who was responsible for coming up with the damage figure of $307 million Apple is being hit with at the trial. Judge Cote did say Apple can file a sur-reply stating its objections.

The more interesting news, though, has to do with the lawyers for the Department of Justice and the state and consumer classes involved in the case filing their response to Apple’s request for a stay of the order pending resolution of its complaints about the court’s antitrust monitor, Michael Bromwich. The trouble arose, at least in part, from Bromwich’s request to interview Apple’s top execs, and Apple’s insistence that he shouldn’t need to do that. As you might expect, the plaintiffs’ attorneys weren’t impressed.

“Stripped of its blustery rhetoric and personal attacks, Apple’s motion is about its desire to shield its highest-level executives and Board members from the perceived inconvenience of having to sit for these interviews,” the brief states. “There is nothing improper about Mr. Bromwich’s request to interview the people with ultimate responsibility for overseeing Apple’s compliance with the law, nor is there anything remarkable about any action that Mr. Bromwich has undertaken in connection with his role as External Compliance Monitor.”

Christopher M. Matthews writes in the Wall Street Journal:

On Monday, Mr. Bromwich said he routinely met with top management at the three organizations he previously monitored and had "never before had a request for a meeting or interview in a monitoring assignment rejected or even deferred."

"This is far less access than I have ever received during a comparable period of time in the three other monitorships I have conducted," Mr. Bromwich said.

I find myself wondering, just a bit, why it is that nobody else seems to have picked up on the Wall Street Journal editorial from a few weeks back alleging that, as old friends, Bromwich and Judge Cote might have a conflict of interest. You’d think that if there was anything of substance to it, Apple would latch onto it as another excuse to complain, wouldn’t you?

We’ll know more in a couple of weeks, I suppose. Judge Cote will hold a hearing on the matter on January 13th.


  1. LOL Bromwich is desperate to keep the Apple 6 figure gravy train going. But as John Lennon so aptly sang, “You’re going lose that girl.”

    And as Bart Scott so aptly declared at the end of the game, “Can’t wait!”

  2. Personally, I find it difficult to feel sorry for Apple in this one. My outrage at injustice is muted by the fact that a higher form of justice seems to be happening or, stated another way, fools are getting their well-earned punishment.

    Go to Influence Explorer and you’ll find out how Apple and its employees have been giving:


    Here’s the political giving through Q3, 2013 for recent presidential candidates:

    Barack Obama: $514,708
    Hillary Clinton: $46,799
    John Kerry: $42.764
    Mitt Romney: $32,460

    Lopsided isn’t it? That’s about twelve times as much for a Chicago-machine politician with no business or executive talent (Obama) as for Romney, an extraordinarily gifted administrator and successful businessman. From a business perspective, that’s picking a loser. Apple wouldn’t hire Obama to manage their paper towel inventory. They know that much about business. But they want him running our country.

    And Apple’s executives are no doubt wondering right now why they’re running into such hostility to Apple’s business success. They’re wondering why Obama’s DOJ has painted a bull’s eye on their back.

    Duh! Obama does that because that is how Chicago-machine politics operates. Mere voters and campaign contributors get ignored. They’re regarded as suckers. That’s why voting blocks that went heavily for Obama–especially black people and young adults–have been screwed the last five years. It’s why Obamacare particularly shafts young adults.

    It’s also why they think it looks good politically to go after Apple. It’s why the DOJ is hoping this sleazy lawyer will turn up something that can be turned into dirt on Apple. For pete’s sake, that’s Chicago politics. You expect to be honest and fair?

    In a sense, Apple’s corporate culture is that of an idiot savant. Very good at certain things (clever new gadgets), but utterly clueless at other things. That’s why Al Gore Jr. is on their board. They probably consider him an intellectual. And it’s why Steve Jobs died despite having the good fortune to have a pancreatic cancer that has a 90% success rate with surgery. He opted for a fruit juice cure until it was too late. Obama is their fruit juice cure for what’s ailing this country.

    It’s also why those who’re set up to inflict pain get pandered to. Obama is blocking the building of a pipeline to carry North Dakota oil because without it that oil must go on billionaire Warren Buffet’s trains. (One recently derailed.) Buffet isn’t like Apple. He will move his political money very quickly if Obama and company doesn’t pander to his wishes. And according to Forbes, he’s worth over $53 billion.

    All this flows from the fact that a Cupertino tech firm that makes clever gadgets doesn’t understand the nastiness of Chicago politics. At one level, we can feel sorry for them. But at another, they’re simply getting what they deserved. They’re reaping what they’ve sown.

    I still hope they win, but I won’t mind if this drags on and on, costing them a bucket of money.

  3. I looked at influence explorer.com and noted this language labeling contributions: includes contributions from the organization’s employees, their family members, and its political action committee.
    This is a pretty wide net that appears to include what individuals and their families independently decide to contribute. Attributing those decisions to the company they happen to work for seems a bit of a stretch. Extending that to a company agenda is getting into aluminum foil hat territory.
    College and university faculty get pre-judged in the same way. The stereotype is that they are all flaming liberals who blindly accept a party line written by the antichrist him or herself.

  4. More to the point of the piece at hand, this is all part of judicial theatre. Bromwich reportedly wanted to interview Sir Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Design at Apple. About eBooks, the iBookstore, etc.? Surely, he’s churning the account. Who knows how the appeal will work out? Make hat while the sun shines.

  5. C’mon, guys, really? Is it really necessary to invent a political conspiracy theory to explain all this? Occam’s razor would suggest that the simplest explanation—that Apple and the publishers broke the law, and Amazon didn’t—is the best one. (And then there’s Hanlon’s razor, which suggests the most likely cause is stupidity rather than malice. Just whose stupidity, I leave to your individual political leanings.)

    When you get right down to it, this is kind of a religious debate. Eschatology, in fact—we all have our preferred ways to see everything play out in the end. But it’s an eschatology where we know that something actually will be decided in a relatively short time. And I’m looking forward to it.

  6. Michael Perry: So your argument is basically that, because Apple donated more money to Obama (who you don’t like), that’s why Obama instructed the DOJ to go after Apple?

    Any guesses as to what your (more logical & plausible) conspiracy theory would have been had Apple donated more to Romney??

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