A monitor looking at Apple's anti-monopoly policies can resume his work but must stick to strict limits spelled out by the judge who appointed him, an appeal court panel has said.
The three-judge panel of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued the order after hearing arguments last week on Apple's request that the monitor's work be suspended until the appeal court decided whether it was proper to appoint him. That ruling could be months away.
The order allows the monitor, Washington lawyer Michael Bromwich, to resume his duties after they were suspended for several weeks while the appeal court considered whether to grant Apple's request temporarily.
A Manhattan judge appointed the monitor in the autumn for two years after concluding Apple colluded with book publishers in 2010 to raise electronic book prices.
Department of Justice spokeswoman Gina Talamona said t he US government was pleased with the court's decision.
"Today's ruling makes abundantly clear that Apple must now co-operate with the court-appointed monitor," she said. "The appellate court's ruling reaffirms the department's and district court's decision that a monitor is necessary to oversee Apple's antitrust compliance policies, procedures and training to help ensure that Apple does not engage in future price fixing and that US consumers never have to pay the price of their illegal conduct again."
The appeal court wrote that it agreed with a narrow interpretation of US District Judge Denise Cote's description of Mr Bromwich's duties, meaning he should be limited to evaluating whether an antitrust compliance programme is adequate, not whether Apple employees and management were obeying antitrust laws.
"The monitor was empowered to demand only documents relevant to his authorised responsibility as so defined, and to interview Apple directors, officers and employees only on subjects relevant to that responsibility," the 2nd Circuit panel noted.
In court papers, Apple has argued that Mr Bromwich launched a "broad and amorphous inquisition" that was interfering with its business operations and imposing substantial and rapidly escalating costs.
Government lawyers said in court papers that Apple had let the monitor conduct only 13 hours of interviews with 11 people, seven of whom are lawyers, and had provided the monitor with only 303 pages of documents.