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Apple and the DOJ square off in US Court of Appeals over antitrust monitor Michael Bromwich

Reuters reports that Apple appeared before the US Court of Appeals on Tuesday. The company argued before a three-judge panel that antitrust monitor Michael Bromwich's duties should be put on hold until a final determination can be reached regarding his role as an antitrust-compliance monitor.

It's no secret that Apple and Bromwich's relationship has been rocky from the start, and Apple has been anything but shy about articulating why it wants him removed. Recall that Apple took issue with Bromwich's hourly rate (more than US$1,000 an hour) along with his efforts to meet with high-ranking Apple personnel, some of whom have nothing to do with anything e-book- or antitrust-related.

The gist of Apple's argument was that allowing Bromwich to maintain his monitorship position will cause Apple irreparable harm if it's subsequently determined that his appointment was erroneous.

"The court can't give us relief," Apple attorney Theodore Boutrous explained. "It can't turn back the clock.

The DOJ, not backing down an inch, stressed that Apple, having already been found guilty of violating antitrust law, needs to fulfill the terms of its punishment "not a year from now, but today."

While reports from the hearing indicate that the three-judge panel was receptive to Apple's concerns regarding Bromwich's "roving investigation," the same can't be said for Apple's assertion that Bromwich's interview requests are disruptive and soak up valuable employee time.

"Maybe if they had spent some of their valuable time keeping the company from violating antitrust laws, perhaps they wouldn't be in this position," Judge Gerald Lynch said at the proceeding.

Ouch.

In an effort to broker some sort of compromise between the two parties, Lynch floated the idea that Bromwich's mandate be more carefully sculpted as to ensure he doesn't overstep his assigned task.

Not surprisingly, Apple said it "would still oppose the monitorship as unnecessary."

Apple is also appealing Judge Denise Cote's initial ruling, which found Apple guilty of colluding with a number of publishing houses to artificially raise the price of e-books.