U.S. District Judge Denise Cote made the observation as she revised the remedies that government lawyers proposed after their antitrust victory last month.
The judge concluded that the maker of iPods, iPads and iPhones had conspired with publishers in 2010 to eliminate Amazon's $9.99 e-book price. Apple has steadfastly denied it did anything wrong, even as the book publishers involved in the case settled to avoid going to trial.
Cote noted competition must be restored but the court isn't authorized to punish Apple.
"I want this injunction to rest as lightly as possible on how Apple runs its business," she said as she made suggested revisions. She left it to lawyers on both sides to make further revisions before she approves remedies next week.
Her suggestions offered relief for Apple from some of the government's recommendations. For instance, the government suggested provisions that would affect Apple's App store, but Cote said she thinks they are unnecessary.
"The App store was only an incidental part of this trial," Cote said.
The judge also said she was inclined to limit the authority of an outside monitor as he or she reviews the company's internal compliance program and training policies to ensure there is no antitrust behaviour.
The judge said she remained skeptical about Apple's interest in changing its behaviour, but she seemed pleased with comments Tuesday from Apple's attorney, Theodore Boutrous Jr.
He said the company continues to disagree with her antitrust finding and will pursue its appeal. But he added that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company will closely follow her rulings if it loses its appeal.
"We think the court's changes make a lot of sense," Boutrous said. "We're going to try to be a model citizen if this injunction remains in place."