LCD DISPLAY COMPANIES Toshiba, Sharp and 13 others have been sued for alleged price-fixing.
The lawsuit was filed with the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York by two retailers, P.C. Richard & Son and ABC Appliance, in addition to the buying cooperative Marta Cooperative of America.
The LCD companies are accused of operating a price-fixing cartel that allegedly started in 1996. They allegedly met in person and communicated by other means to agree on prices for their products, ensuring that all of them would get the most they could from customers who would otherwise benefit from their competition.
Seven of the 13 companies have already admitted to participating in the cartel and have paid several million dollars in fines. It's likely they also revealed the identity of other price-fixers in order to reduce their fines by being helpful with the case.
Toshiba said it is investigating the matter, while Sharp has remained tight-lipped about the affair, according to Bloomberg.
AU Optronics is also one of the companies mentioned. It is not yet clear who the remaining ten are, but they are likely the same companies that were sued by the consumer electronics retailer Best Buy last year for price-fixing from 1996 to 2006. These included Nagano, Seiko Epson, Hitachi and LG.
The LCD market has been rife with lawsuits over the past few years, with several class action cases relating to price-fixing between 2008 and 2005, not to mention a case filed by the New York state attorney general last year, and even prison time was given to some found guilty in a US Department of Justice case in 2009.
The European Commission (EC) also fined six LCD makers a total of $860 million, including AU Optronics, Chi Mei, LG, Chungwa Picture Tubes and Hannstar. Samsung was the sixth involved, but escaped a fine by blowing the whistle on the others and providing damnning evidence against them. Now that Toshiba and Sharp are listed as being involved in a cartel, it is probably only a matter of time before they are brought before the EC to face additional fines. µ