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The EU has fined DRAM manufacturers $420M USD for price fixing. The fines follow $1B USD fines against DRAM manufacturers by U.S. regulators (plus jail time) over the past decade.  (Source: Silicon Valley Blog)

Samsung received the biggest fine -- $185M USD.  (Source: Ubergizmo)

U.S. Firm Micron escaped being fined by sharing dirt on its fellow DRAM manufacturers.  (Source: Maximum PC)
EU is back at it with antitrust regulation

The European Union and its regulatory arm the European Commission have had a pretty active antitrust record of late.  First it slapped Microsoft with a pair of fines for a total of $1.4B USD.  Then it hit Intel with a single fine of $1.45B USD.  In both cases, one of the chief accusations that the American tech firms were found guilty of was price fixing -- allegedly using underhanded pricing techniques such as offering a discount to retailers who refuse to carry competitors products.

Now nine American, European, and Asian DRAM producers have been slapped collectively with $420M USD (€331M , £283.1M) in fines for allegedly engaging in price fixing.  The fine against Samsung, Hynix, Infineon, NEC, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Elpida and Nanya was announced yesterday.

Of the manufacturers, Samsung received the biggest fine -- $185.4M USD (€146M).  Germany's Infineon was fined the second most, ordered to pay $72.4M USD (€57M).

According to the EU investigation, the companies engaged in a seek collusion, fixing prices of DRAM between 1998 and 2002.  A "network of contacts" carried out the pricing scheme.

All companies cooperated with the investigation, thus their total fines were reduced 10 percent.  One company -- Boise, ID-based Micron Technology -- was implicated in the investigation, but cut a deal providing information to EU investigators on the deals it and its competitors cut almost a decade before.

Micron began to provide the EU with information in 2002, but it took several years to substantiate the claims and reach a decision on fines.  EU's Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia comments on Micron's cooperation, "By acknowledging their participation in a cartel the companies have allowed the Commission to bring this long-running investigation to a close and to free up resources to investigate other suspected cartels."

EU law offers among the strictest bans on business practices that inhibit competition of any industrialized nation.  Almunia says he expects the number of EU filings to rise in the near future and the process be expedited.  He states, "As the procedure is applied to new cases it is expected to speed up investigations significantly."

Samsung has been fined $90M USD by U.S. regulators for price fixing, previously.  The U.S. has aggressively pursued DRAM manufacturers, too, handing out close to $1B USD in fines over the last decade.  Some DRAM executives have also served jail time related to price fixing.

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Another fine without a court case?
By hyvonen on 5/20/2010 11:09:55 AM , Rating: 2
EU did it again? Large fines without the companies given a chance to defend themselves in court? What if the investigators were "fixing" evidence to match their goal, and ignoring conflicting data, like they did in the Intel case?

This kind of stuff is breeding ground for corruption.

RE: Another fine without a court case?
By danobrega on 5/20/2010 12:05:51 PM , Rating: 2
Companies don't have to pay anything just because "EU" tells them to. I'm sure that if they did, it was because going to court would probably cost them even more. No?

RE: Another fine without a court case?
By ktcrow on 5/20/2010 1:25:56 PM , Rating: 2
When did Intel have an option to go to court? They were never give a hearing.

By alanore on 5/21/2010 3:37:07 AM , Rating: 2
When they said, "I would like to appeal this decision"

RE: Another fine without a court case?
By BZDTemp on 5/20/2010 12:10:06 PM , Rating: 1
You watch way to much Fox "News".

By knutjb on 5/20/2010 7:28:24 PM , Rating: 2
Funny I didn't see Fox News blasting said conspiracy every hour on the hour.

He is expressing a conspiracy theory, he might be radical to you. To many the EU looks like it is picking on US companies to fiance their socialist ways. That doesn't support in anyway your assertion that he is watching too much Fox News.

Liberals like to jump to derogatory assertions shy on facts to impose their idealistic point of view on those they deem ignorant to stifle reasonable discourse.

By alanore on 5/21/2010 3:31:20 AM , Rating: 3
Each company can appeal the decision in court, if they are unsuccessful in proving their increased they can have their fine increased.

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