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LCD cartel case claims seven more scalps

Samsung, Sharp lead half-billion settlement

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Seven LCD screen makers have joined together to offer $US553 million to settle charges that the screen industry has acted as a price-fixing cartel.

The case has dragged on since 2006, when authorities in Japan, Korea, the EU and the USA first began investigating the LCD industry for anti-competitive conduct. So far, Reuters reports, nearly $US900 million in fines and settlements have been paid (including the current settlement).

The settlement papers, filed on 23 December in the US District Court in San Francisco, name Samsung, Sharp, Chimei Innolux, Hitachi Display, HannStar Display, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, and Epson Imaging as the vendors choosing to cough up rather than slug it out in the courts.

The bulk of the latest payment is made up in payments to “indirect” purchasers – that is, customers of finished products like TVs and computers using the screens, rather than the OEMs that were the cartel’s direct customers. Claims by state regulators in Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia and Wisconsin are also settled in the latest offer.

Earlier this month, Samsung, Sharp and six others agreed to pay $388 million to settle with OEMs as direct purchasers.

Hold-outs include AU Optronics, LG Display and Toshiba. ®

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