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States throw legal book at memory firms

Micron, others get taken to task
Mon Jul 24 2006, 06:55
WE REPORTED a little while ago that some US states had taken up the cudgels against memory companies, alleging they'd engaged in price fixing on DRAMs.

But now the full extent of the action has been revealed with individual US states from A to Z - alright to W, detailing their case against the Dramurai.

The firms accused of engaging in price fixing are Infineon, Hynix, Micron, Mosel Vitelic, Nanya, Elpida and NEC, in a filing made on 14th of July in a California district court. The action follows an earlier Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation with the individual states, led by California, alleging that about 1998 the defendants started to coordinate prices for DRAM they charged OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).

For four years, it's alleged, the manufacturers conspired to fix prices as they submitted bids to the OEMs. The DoJ got Micron to cooperate with its investigation and four manufacturers - Samsung, Hynix, Infineon and Elpida pleaded guilty to criminal price fixing. Because of that the states have followed suit alleging antitrust vuolations of the Sherman Act, and of State antitrust and other consumer laws.

There are "various other" co-conspirators in the cartel, according to the filing. Apple, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, HP and IBM were all effected by the cartel. Micron VP of worldwide sales Mike Sadler "had discussions concerning pricing... with his counterparts at Samsung, Infineon, Hynix, Nanya, Elpida and Mosel Vitelic" and talked directly with Samsung and Infineon CEOs, it's alleged.

The conspirators in the case, it's said, "engaged in a successful, illegal price fixing conspiracy that by its nature was inherently self concealing".

There's much, much more, here. µ


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