Print 14 comment(s) - last by xplice.. on Dec 29 at 6:09 PM

LCD companies still dispute claims

Companies in the tech world at times resort to some very questionable tactics to maintain or boost profits. Such is the case with some of the largest firms in the technology realm when they conspired between 1999 and 2006 to artificially fix the prices of LCD screen that are used in a variety of electronic devices. LCDs are used in devices like notebooks, smartphones, TVs and more.
The legal drama, fines, and other issues in the LCD market have been ongoing for years now. Sharp and LG were sentenced in part of the price fixing scandal as far back as 2008. The LCD makers embroiled in the case have settled the price-fixing case for a total of $553 million between the guilty parties. The companies that are part of the settlement include Samsung, Sharp, Chimei Innolux Corp, Hitachi Displays Ltd, HannStar Display Corp, Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd, and Epson Imaging Devices Corp.
"This price-fixing scheme manipulated the playing field for businesses that abide by the rules, and left consumers to pay artificially higher costs for televisions, computers and other electronics," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement on Tuesday. The settlement will be dived out between eight states including Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Samsung will pay the largest part of the fine at $240 million, Sharp will pay $115.5 million, and Chimei Innolux Corp will pay $110.3 million. Hitachi is on the hook for $39 million, HannStar Display will pay $25.7 million, Chunghwa will pay $5.3 million, and Epson will pay $2.9 million.
The settlement agreement will also see the firms set up antitrust compliance programs. The court still needs to give the final approval to the deal. It's also worth noting that Reuters reports the court documents still show that the firms are disputing the allegations, even though they are settling for millions.

Source: Reuters

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This will cause problems.
By dgingerich on 12/28/2011 1:49:20 PM , Rating: 2
This is going to cause massive problems in the industry. Some panel makers will go under because of this, then the supply will dwindle and prices will go up. Get your monitors now because the prices in 2 years will be a lot higher.

RE: This will cause problems.
By Smartless on 12/28/2011 1:53:19 PM , Rating: 3
What's scary is after Sony sold their share to Samsung, that means a giant portion of the LCD panel market now belongs solely to Samsung.

RE: This will cause problems.
By dgingerich on 12/28/2011 2:12:40 PM , Rating: 2
Samsung will weather this, but many competitors won't. Less competition and lower production with higher demand means higher prices. It's pretty simple, basic economics. Samsung will make a bundle from this, probably much more than the fines.

RE: This will cause problems.
By Shig on 12/28/2011 3:21:53 PM , Rating: 2
This is merely a 'cost of doing business' fine for Samsung. They have a near monopoly in South Korea and their products are selling well across the world. It will definitely hurt share prices a little, but completely manageable.

Like dgingerich said, the other companies are in significantly worse trouble and if they go, Samsung will be there smiling to increase use of their product.

Seems like this was almost an executed business plan where Samsung wins no matter what happens.

Honest question....
By Smartless on 12/28/2011 1:50:31 PM , Rating: 2
How come 8 states are going to get the cash? Did they pay for the lawsuit? Does the state government get it? I always wondered where that money goes.

RE: Honest question....
By Diablobo on 12/28/2011 4:29:42 PM , Rating: 2
That's a very good question. Who exactly is this settlement money going to? The article does not answer this very important question. If they want to make things better for the consumers who were actually harmed worldwide, they could use the money to make all future panel purchases get a discount at the consumer level. This would punish the guilty, keep prices lower, and drive demand at the same time.

RE: Honest question....
By its tom hanks on 12/28/2011 4:51:09 PM , Rating: 2

8 states filed the claim, it was consolidated into one claim, and 16 additional states worked their way into getting some of the cash

RE: Honest question....
By Hakuryu on 12/28/2011 10:06:51 PM , Rating: 2
Another honest question from me - did anyone else feel LCD prices were crazy in the times mentioned?

Sure the LCD monitors were high, but CRT monitors were still being sold in 2000. Buying LCD was buying a step up. If all these companies decided to keep prices higher, in a market where the item was a luxury (over CRT), then I think they had good managers as opposed to being part of a scheme to keep prices high.

I can hate on Apples prices and DRM with the best of them, but I just don't find a cause here. Nobody had to have an LCD in the years of this suit.

Government taxation at its finest
By sleepeeg3 on 12/28/2011 1:48:45 PM , Rating: 2
The only thing this does is serve to raise the costs of LCDs. Manufacturers will embed the cost of this settlement in future LCDs. Even if the price-fixing is true, is this settlement going to the consumers? No, it is going to the federal government where the money just evaporates.

By OoklaTheMok on 12/28/2011 2:51:25 PM , Rating: 2
This punishment is like a wet noodle.

This settlement still made the use of price fixing profitable for these companies. I would love to be able to steal $100, and only have to pay $30 restitution. Shouldn't the settlement cost at least the amount they "stole", and then some more as a incentive to never do it again?

By fortiori on 12/28/2011 7:50:25 PM , Rating: 2
So employee x of company y colludes with employee a of company b to fix the price of z. This is illegal.

Government c finds out about it and charges companies b and y a fine, which is then passed onto consumer d and hurts the industry.

So the consumers pay the price for something illegal that employees x and a did, instead of employees x and a.

Gotta love limited liability for entities with virtually limitless resources and limitless motivation for exploiting a system that rewards them for doing just that.

It will be okay
By FredEx on 12/28/2011 10:03:06 PM , Rating: 2
This will just reduce what they made doing the price fixing. They dispute it like any company having a decision going against them, but not one of the companies are crying about this big time predicting their own destruction.

By xplice on 12/29/2011 6:09:23 PM , Rating: 2
I bet not to the consumer from whom it was unfairly taken...

first post
By Crazyeyeskillah on 12/28/2011 1:45:39 PM , Rating: 1
I bought a 3d panasonic with an in-store instant rebate of 900$ from costco and that made it cheaper than lcd's of similar spec in april of '11

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