U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote recently said that she plans to require Apple to take on an external antitrust monitor but expects the final terms of the injunction to not restrict other facets of the iTunes business. The final remedy in Apple’s lost case will be narrower than a set of injunctions proposed by the DOJ. According to Judge Cote:
I want this injunction to rest as lightly as possible on how Apple runs its business.
In another blow to the DOJ’s proposed remedies, Judge Cote found a provision that would allow apps to link out to their own digital bookstores without paying a sales commission to Apple. The Cupertino California company argued that the DOJ request would give other e-bookstores, specifically Amazon, a competitive advantage over the iBookstore.
Apple will most likely be required to bring in a monitor to oversee the company’s antitrust compliance program. Judge Cote said the monitor is necessary due to the company’s “blatant “antitrust violations. Apple previously argued against such an action, citing undue cost and burden. Both parties are compromising on the final terms with Apple already agreeing to certain proposed remedies such as staggering of negotiations with e-book providers, while the DOJ adjusted a proposed ten year injunction to five years.
Judge Cote originally expected to issue the injunction next week but it seems the ruling won’t be the end of a bumpy e-books antitrust road for Apple. The company still faces an associated damages trial that could see the plaintiffs DOJ and 33 U.S. states and territories awarded hundreds of millions of dollars. Hearings for the other trial are set for May 2014.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.