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Samsung, Others to Pay Out $553 Million Over LCD Price-Fixing
Hitachi, Sharp also among seven Asian LCD makers reaching a settlement over claims that they formed a cartel over eight years to inflate LCD panel prices in TVs, computers.
Seven Asia-based tech companies including Samsung, Hitachi, and Sharp have agreed to pay out $553 million as part of an agreement to settle claims that they conspired over eight years to fix prices for liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, the New York attorney general announced Tuesday.
Samsung, Hitachi, Sharp, Chi Mei Innolux, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Epson Imaging Devices, and HannStar Display, as well as some affiliated entities of each corporation, will pay $538 million to settle antitrust claims brought by eight state attorneys general and private class-action attorneys, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office said in a statement.
The seven firms will separately pay an additional $14 million to various states to settle civil fines and penalty law claims. The companies, based in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, have also agreed to participate in antitrust compliance programs and to cooperate in government antitrust prosecutions involving the high-tech industry.
The complaint in New York against the makers of thin film transistor (TFT)-LCD panels for television sets and computers alleged that the companies and their U.S. affiliates formed a cartel that conspired together to fix TFT-LCD prices at inflated levels from Jan. 1, 1999 through Dec. 31, 2006.
The main payout includes up to $501 million that will be made available as partial refunds for consumers in 24 states and the District of Columbia who purchased products with TFT-LCD panels during the period in question. Up to $37 million will go to compensate government bodies and other public sector entities.
“This price-fixing scheme manipulated the playing field for businesses that abide by the rules, and left consumers to pay artificially higher costs for televisions, computers, and other electronics,” Schneiderman said. “Protecting the integrity of the marketplace is the only way to ensure the best outcome for New York’s consumers. That is why my office will aggressively police anti-competitive practices and hold accountable those who violate the law.”
The attorney general’s office said the public would be notified as to how to file for partial refunds on purchased products at a later date.
By Damon Poeter, PCMag