Seattle, WA - Attorney General Rob McKenna today announced a lawsuit accusing the makers of Samsung, Toshiba, Sharp and five other brands of liquid crystal display (LCD) screens of fixing prices.
“LCD panels can comprise up to 80 percent of a product’s retail cost,” McKenna said. “Our investigation shows manufacturers illegally fixed prices and through this conspiracy, fleeced Washington consumers who paid too much for TV, laptops and monitors.”
“When cartels form and disregard rules governing fair competition, there will be repercussions,” he added.
The suit filed Wednesday afternoon in King County Superior Court is the result of a year-long multistate investigation led by Washington and a handful of other states. The suit alleges that from 1998 to 2006, company leaders regularly met in secret to agree on prices, engage in bid rigging, limit their production, and agreed to conceal the existence of their illegal conduct. As a result of these cartel meetings, the manufacturers illegally undermined competition in the LCD industry and consumers bore the cost of the illegal overcharges. The lawsuit seeks restitution for state agencies and consumers, as well as civil penalties and injunctive relief.
Several of the companies and their executives have pled guilty to federal criminal charges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Defendants named in Washington’s suit are AU Optronics Corporation; AU Optronics Corp. America; Chimei Innolux Corp.; Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. USA, Inc.; Epson Imaging Devices Corp.; Epson Electronics America, Inc.; Hitachi Displays, Ltd.; Hitachi Electronic Devices (USA), Inc.; LG Display Co., Ltd.; LG Display America, Inc.; Samsung Electronics Company, Ltd.; Samsung Semiconductor, Inc.; Samsung Electronics America, Inc.; Sharp Corporation; Sharp Electronics Corporation; Toshiba Corporation; Toshiba America Electronics Components Inc.; Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., and Toshiba Mobile Display Technology Company, Ltd.
Senior Counsel Brady R. Johnson and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan A. Mark, of the Attorney General’s Antitrust Division, are representing Washington in the lawsuit.