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Apple likely free of e-book antitrust monitor after 'rocky' two-year term [u]

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The U.S. Department of Justice has recommended against extending the term of Apple antitrust monitor Michael Bromwich after two years of oversight, citing satisfaction with the company's new compliance program and willingness to meet mandated obligations.

In a joint letter to U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote on Monday, neither plaintiffs nor Apple recommend extending the monitorship of Michael Bromwich, who was installed in 2013 after the company was found culpable of conspiring to fix the price of e-books sold through the iBooks Store.

Bloomberg reported on the letter earlier today.

While admitting that Apple and Bromwich were never on good terms, the government noted Apple implemented a "vast majority" of the external compliance monitor's recommendations. Ultimately, the company's effort toward compliance with stipulations outlined by Judge Cote, and its continued obligation to court supervision, no longer necessitate Bromwich's services.

"In arriving at our conclusion not to recommend an extension of the Monitor's term, we ultimately give greater weight to the Monitor's assessment that Apple has put in place a meaningful antitrust compliance program than to the difficult path it took to achieve this result," the government said.

Bromwich furnished what could be his final report last week, saying that while Apple still resists requests for information, its antitrust compliance program has made satisfactory progress. If Judge Cote elects not to extend the ECM's term, Apple's internal Antitrust Compliance Monitor will ensure the company continues compliance for at least another three years. The ACO position was created as part of the original e-books ruling.

For its part, Apple acknowledges its relationship with Bromwich "has been rocky at times," an allusion to past attempts at reining in the investigation's scope. These disagreements do not detract from the creation of what Apple calls a world-class antitrust program, built in collaboration with Bromwich as specified by the court. The company said it will continue to comply with its obligations going forward.

Update: Judge Cote has since confirmed she will not extend Bromwich's term.