LCD Manufacturers Paying $539M To Settle Antitust Lawsuit

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).

  • hsyuts
    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?
  • intel4eva
    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.
  • Darkk
    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.
  • whitecrowro
    Fines are digging into profit pockets. If margin is to remain the same, fines will not aid to price decrease.
  • Aintry
    Anybody ever wonder just what is done with the money collected in fines?
  • Just go ahead and send that check over to my house. I promise not to pursue any more legal action.
  • g00fysmiley
    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
  • shak2300
    AintryAnybody ever wonder just what is done with the money collected in fines? i was thinking the same thing honestly
  • john_e
    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!
  • freggo
    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.