Court grants temporary suspension of Apple antitrust monitor

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If you haven’t been following the back-and-forth over Apple’s court-appointed antitrust ebooks monitor, well, you haven’t been watching soap operas the way they were meant to be watched. The most recent turnabout move comes from a U.S. appeals court, which on Tuesday gave Apple a break—albeit a temporary one—from the legally-mandated watchdog.

As reported by Reuters, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York issued an “administrative stay” as the judges prepare to quickly hear arguments over a longer suspension of the monitor, Michael Bromwich.

Apple has been vocal in its opposition to Bromwich, who was appointed by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote as part of her ruling in the case brought against Apple by the Department of Justice. The government, for its part, didn’t contest the temporary suspension, but it isn’t about to let Apple off the hook without a fight; it will likely file its opposition to the longer stay before the end of the week.

The contention over Bromwich has escalated in recent weeks, with Apple arguing that the monitor has exceeded his authority in monitoring other, unrelated parts of the company, as well as disrupting Apple’s business. Additionally, Apple has objected to having to pay not only Bromwich’s own steep fee but also a similarly hefty amount to employ an antitrust legal consultant for Bromwich, who himself has no expertise in the subject. Bromwich filed his own rebuttal, arguing that Apple had stonewalled him in his duties, blocking him from interviewing senior executives and board members.

Earlier this month, Judge Cote dismissed a request from Apple to have Bromwich removed, opening the door for Apple to take the matter to a higher court.

Bromwich’s appointment, which was intended to make sure that Apple adhered to the court’s ruling, is intended to last for two years. But it seems clear that if Apple has its way, Bromwich won’t last even half of that. Either way, go pop some popcorn, because this is just getting started.

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