One down, eight to go for AGs in DRAM price-fixing suit

Legal News Line Feb. 7, 2007, 12:44pm

Lisa Madigan

Attorneys general across the U.S. are celebrating a $90 million settlement by one of nine computer-chip makers that were being sued in a three-year legal battle over price fixing. But several of the final payouts to states might end up looking a bit paltry considering the amount of resources some must have exhausted on the case so far. The 40 states participating in the case will share the proceeds of the settlement announced yesterday by Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. The actual splits have not yet been announced. Dividing the $90 million settlement between all the states averages out at $2.25 million per state, or $750,000 annually. States with larger populations like Illinois will no doubt get more than this but with 39 other claimants, flexibility is somewhat limited. Nonetheless, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was upbeat after the deal was announced. "This settlement again underscores that companies who choose to conspire rather than compete will be called to account for their actions," Madigan stated. The attorneys general are no doubt hoping that the other eight defendants in the suit will now follow Samsung's lead and settle the case. These include Infineon, Micron Technologies and NEC. Micron, Samsung, Hynix, Infineon and Elpida have already been subject to a U.S. Dept. Justice criminal investigation, conducted in 2002, over the same charges of price-fixing of DRAM chips. The latter four pled guilty and paid over $700 million in fines. The current suit was filed after a multi-state investigation, triggered by the federal findings, was launched in 2004. It alleges that the companies charged colluded to artificially raise the price of DRAM chips, thereby "profiting at the expense of the consumer." Each state's share of the settlement will be repaid to "consumers and governmental agencies that paid more for computers, servers and other electronic devices because of price-fixing of DRAM chips," Madigan stated.

More News