Cuomo alleges LCD price-fixing scam

Keith Loria Aug. 9, 2010, 9:57am


NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that he has filed an antitrust lawsuit against a number of major technology companies.

The companies allegedly took part in a scheme to fix prices for liquid crystal display screens popular in computers, televisions and cell phones. Cuomo says the price-fixing conspiracy on the LCD screens affected New York State government and other public entities throughout the state.

"Our investigation shows that an illegal cartel eliminated competition in the marketplace for LCD screens, made its own secret decisions to boost prices, and then took steps to make those high prices stick," Cuomo said.

"As a result, hard-pressed New York cities, towns, schools, and hospitals spent hundreds of millions of dollars on LCD screens affected by the illegal conspiracy. My office is bringing this case to get those illegal overcharges back."

The defendants named in the lawsuit include AU Optronics Corporation, AU Optronics Corporation America Inc., Chi Mei Corporation, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corporation, Chi Mei Optoelectronics USA Inc., CMO Japan Co. Ltd., Hitachi Displays Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., Hitachi Electronic Devices (USA) Inc., LG Display Co. Ltd., LG Display America Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Samsung Electronics America Inc., Samsung Semiconductor Inc., Sharp Corporation, Sharp Electronics Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology Co. Ltd., Toshiba America Information Systems,Inc. and Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc.

According to the lawsuit, from 1996-2006, a number of New York State's local governments, schools, hospitals and colleges were among those that bought computers and other electronic equipment containing the LCD screens.

The lawsuit alleges that these companies, located in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, along with their U.S. counterparts, orchestrated a cartel that dominated the $70 billion market for LCD screens for nearly 10 years. By doing so, the companies made sure that their secret agreements controlled the prices, not competition, Cuomo says.

This allegedly resulted in New York State purchasers paying higher prices for products containing LCD panels.

Allegedly, top-level executives in these companies attended secret meetings either monthly or quarterly to discuss pricing options, including minimum prices, price targets and what to charge specific computer manufacturers.

The suit seeks to recover damages suffered by New York State and other public purchasers during the 10-year period that the conspiracy was in effect.

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