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LCD Manufacturers Paying $539M To Settle Antitust Lawsuit

By - Source: Reuters | B 15 comments

Samsung, Sharp and others have offered to pay $539 million to settle an antitrust lawsuit over alleged LCD panel price-fixing.

Earlier this month, Samsung, Sharp and six other LCD manufacturers agreed to pay $388 million to settle price-fixing claims made by direct buyers. The settlement was part of a series of antitrust cases brought by Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia and Wisconsin which were consolidated in federal court in San Francisco.

In late 2006, a probe into price-fixing allegations made by direct and indirect buyers was initiated by authorities in Japan, Korea, the European Union and the United States. Eventually many companies and executives stepped forward and pleaded guilty to criminal antitrust violations. Among them were LG, Chunghwa Picture Tubes and Sharp who reportedly agreed in 2008 and 2009 to pay $585 million in criminal fines alone. A total of more than $890 million in fines was paid out from all guilty parties.

A class action lawsuit thus followed in 2007, claiming that the companies allegedly fixed LCD panel prices, thus driving up prices for direct buyers of LCD panels and related gadgets (HDTVs, desktops, notebooks etc) from 1999 to 2006. Sharp paid $105 million, Samsung paid $82.7 million and Chimei Innolux paid $78 million -- the other five paid a total sum of $122.3 million.

However now six LCD makers must pay an additional $539 million to settle antitrust claims made by indirect buyers.

In court papers filed in San Francisco on Friday, Samsung has proposed to pay indirect buyers $240 million, Sharp $115.5 million and Taiwan-based Chimei Innolux Corp $110 million. The rest of the $539 bulk will be paid by Hitachi, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, and Epson Imagine Devices. These companies have also agreed to establish antitrust compliance programs regarding the pricing and production of LCD panels, and to help prosecute other defendants.

Meanwhile, the six settling companies are now disputing the allegations. Other defendants have also yet to settle including AU Optronics, LG and Toshiba. The case is In Re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litigation, 07-01827, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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  • 14 Hide
    Aintry , December 27, 2011 8:23 PM
    Anybody ever wonder just what is done with the money collected in fines?
  • 11 Hide
    intel4eva , December 27, 2011 7:49 PM
    Garbage. The only sentence that has a chance at successfully preventing future abuses of the capitalist system are executives going to PRISON. That's it. Decision makers in the pokey. That simple.
Other Comments
  • 4 Hide
    hsyuts , December 27, 2011 7:31 PM
    Price-fixing is wrong, and criminal punishments for these companies are just. However, fining these companies again and again and again is just crazy.

    First, we have anti-trust fines. Then we have payments for direct buyers. Now, we have payments for indirect buyers.

    What's next? Payments for consumer buyers? Are we fining companies out of existence?
  • 11 Hide
    intel4eva , December 27, 2011 7:49 PM
    Garbage. The only sentence that has a chance at successfully preventing future abuses of the capitalist system are executives going to PRISON. That's it. Decision makers in the pokey. That simple.
  • 9 Hide
    Darkk , December 27, 2011 8:09 PM
    Like any of this really going to benefit the consumer as they will just pass on the cost to the consumer. Like the previous poster said the execs should just go to jail for their crimes.
  • 8 Hide
    whitecrowro , December 27, 2011 8:11 PM
    Fines are digging into profit pockets. If margin is to remain the same, fines will not aid to price decrease.
  • 14 Hide
    Aintry , December 27, 2011 8:23 PM
    Anybody ever wonder just what is done with the money collected in fines?
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , December 27, 2011 8:31 PM
    Just go ahead and send that check over to my house. I promise not to pursue any more legal action.
  • 7 Hide
    g00fysmiley , December 27, 2011 8:39 PM
    and it'll get passed down to the consmer... and nothing will change, prices will keep slowly going down, but if there were real compatition profits wouls shrink, and they just cna't hae that.. so they'll pay a small fine (small compared to profit gain anyway)and keep doing the same thing
  • 5 Hide
    shak2300 , December 27, 2011 8:39 PM
    AintryAnybody ever wonder just what is done with the money collected in fines?

    i was thinking the same thing honestly
  • 7 Hide
    john_e , December 27, 2011 9:39 PM
    AintryAnybody ever wonder just what is done with the money collected in fines?


    shak2300i was thinking the same thing honestly


    60% goes to law firms.
    20% for lawyers expenses. (fancy restaurants, bars, mistresses, private jets)
    10% lawyers fee
    9.95% lawyers bonus for winning the case.
    .01% to consumers who felt ripped off by these electronic firms.

    Yes I was being sarcastic. I never liked civil suits just enriches lawyers and law firms, seldom the consumer!
  • 7 Hide
    freggo , December 27, 2011 10:51 PM
    So the companies paid almost a billion in fines.
    That will be tagged on to the pricing of the next panels of course; where else would the companies get the money from.
    And the fines go where ?
    Lawyers and government pockets ?
    Don't just fine them. If there was 'criminal conduct' then the decision makers should serve time in Club Fed. Fines alone are not going to have an impact as it does not come out of Management's pocket.
  • 2 Hide
    knowom , December 28, 2011 12:01 AM
    I don't doubt the price fixing at bit when I bought my 21inch monitor it was like $200's a year and a half later they were more like $100's. Still price fixing or not the prices are still pretty fair overall outside of monitors with resolutions higher than 1080P which have definite price fixing going on with them.

    You can get bigger thinner clearer better resolution more energy efficient tv's and monitors far cheaper than you could 10 years ago when tube based crt's were more common place so it's hard to complain plus they have inputs and outputs for various connectors and more advanced ones at that.

    The anti competitive resolution fixing is the only thing that bothers me really that going on as it would be easy enough for manufacturers to be making 16:9 2774 x 1560 or 2732 x1536 or 2560 x 1440 resolutions for example not to mention all the other variations for other display ratio's as well.

    If it can be done with eyefinity and such so easily there is no reason the manufactures couldn't make seamless displays to do the same thing pricing on anything above 1080P is a complete joke.

    I wish a monitor maker would make seamless modular bezel free monitors with the controls on the back side or built into the monitor base stand then things would get far more interesting.
  • 1 Hide
    izmanq , December 28, 2011 12:09 AM
    hsyutsPrice-fixing is wrong, and criminal punishments for these companies are just. However, fining these companies again and again and again is just crazy.First, we have anti-trust fines. Then we have payments for direct buyers. Now, we have payments for indirect buyers.What's next? Payments for consumer buyers? Are we fining companies out of existence?


    well those kind of company should not exist in the first place :)  i just hope this fine won't accounted as production cost so they can crank price again :D 

    hmm, perhaps now they should investigate the current hard drive price
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , December 28, 2011 6:20 AM
    hsyutsPrice-fixing is wrong, and criminal punishments for these companies are just. However, fining these companies again and again and again is just crazy.First, we have anti-trust fines. Then we have payments for direct buyers. Now, we have payments for indirect buyers.What's next? Payments for consumer buyers? Are we fining companies out of existence?

    you have to hit them in their wallets it's the only place they care about

    AintryAnybody ever wonder just what is done with the money collected in fines?


    at least in America it goes though funding drug busting, it's really what most our laws go to help, for better or worse, usually worse.

    -------------------------------

    Can someone tell me what was wrong here?
    I mean give me a number of how much it cost to make an LCD labor and shipping included
    give me the number of the profit they make
    and tell me exactly what's wrong, because I don't really get

    Yet you can tell me price fixing is wrong, I get that, but I want to know what's wrong here. I mean if they're really just covering themselves so they don't get into an undercutting war where they're only making two or three dollars per panel, and they also weren't trying to make retardedly large amounts of money per panel, I just can't see what's wrong.

  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 28, 2011 10:19 AM
    who's next? hard drive or X-79 mobo manufacturers?
  • 0 Hide
    secretxax , December 30, 2011 3:13 AM
    What's next, car manufacturers?