In an Order Monday, Judge Cote agreed with Apple’s objection, discussed in the post below, that its external antitrust monitor should not contact the court ex parte. As for Apple’s other objections concerning ex parte witness interviews and the monitor’s compensation, she directed the parties to confer with the government and, if the issues could not be resolved, to write the Court a letter “no longer than two pages.” We will continue to follow developments.
In an opinion today, Judge Cote determined to sanction, in an amount to be determined later, a law firm that brought a class action alleging that AOL repurchased its stock at artificially depressed prices because it knew that it would later sell a portfolio of patents to Microsoft for over $1 billion, thereby boosting AOL’s stock price. The patents were sold at an auction, but the plaintiffs alleged that the auction was essentially a sham because Microsoft was the predetermined winner. A critical allegation in the complaint was that AOL’s Tim Armstrong called Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer long before the auction to “close the deal.” Judge Cote found the allegation entirely unsupported and rejected counsel’s attempt to minimize it: