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Nokia sues LCD makers over price-fixing

Mirrors AT&T suit

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Nokia has filed a lawsuit against eight display manufacturers over claims they colluded to fix prices for LCDs used in mobile phones.

The lawsuit, filed November 25 in federal court in San Francisco, California, is grounded in the US Department of Justice's antitrust allegations of the same nature.

Companies named in Nokia's lawsuit are Sieko Epson, Hitachi, LG Display, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes.

Chungwha, Sharp, LG, Hitachi, and Epson have already admitted to the DoJ that they conspired to drive up prices and have agreed to pay fines. Nokia is now suing to recover overcharges it incurred as a result of buying LCD monitors for its mobile handsets between January 1 1996 and December 11, 2006.

The company claims the cartel "artificially inflated the price of liquid crystal displays ultimately incorporated into LCD products purchased by Nokia, causing Nokia to pay higher prices." It asks for the recovery of unspecified damages for overpaying for parts both directly and indirectly from the companies plus interest, along with any further relief the court deems proper.

Nokia's complaint mirrors an antitrust lawsuit filed in October by AT&T against several LCD makers. Both allege the industry wide conspiracy included secret meetings where the companies agreed to eliminate competition and fix prices.

The European Union is also probing price-fixing in the LCD business. The EC said in July it had sent a "statement of objections" to a number of companies in the industry concerning their alleged hand in a LCD cartel. ®

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