Apple Wins Temporary Stay from Appellate Court on Antitrust Monitor

Apple in CourtApple won a temporary stay on Tuesday that blocks the imposition of a court appointed antitrust monitor until Apple's full appeal can be heard by a three judge panel. Judge Raymond Lohier Jr. from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan also said that Apple's full appeal should be heard "as soon as possible."

The ruling is the first appellate ruling after Apple was convicted by Judge Denise Cote for being the ringleader of a conspiracy to raise ebook prices. In addition to Apple being prohibited from entering into the kinds of agreements with book publishers that led to the case, Judge Cote imposed a monitor named Michael Bromwich whose job was to oversee a broader antitrust reform within Apple.

While Apple is appealing its conviction, it is the monitor who has been the source of friction between Apple, the court, and the Department of Justice, which brought the case against Apple. The monitor has complained to Judge Cote that Apple is obstructing his work, while Apple has accused the monitor of engaging in a "broad and amorphous inquisition."

Apple asked Judge Cote to reign in her monitor, but in an expected decision, she declined to do so. She went further by writing, "If anything, Apple's reaction to the existence of a monitorship underscores the wisdom of its imposition."

Tuesday's appellate ruling is the first time a court outside of Judge Cote's has had anything to say on the matter, and while the stay that was issued was a temporary "administrative stay," it likely indicates the court's willingness to be persuaded by Apple's argument. That Judge Lohier wants the case heard as soon as possible is another indication.

That said, indications mean little until arguments from both sides are heard and the full three-judge panel has ruled. Reuters reported that the DOJ has not opposed the temporary stay, but that it has until January 24th to file any such opposition.