Samsung Electronics and LG Display – the first and second biggest LCD manufacturers in the world which together account for more than half of the global LCD market share – had been sued by New York Attorney General for allegedly participating in an illegal cartel to fix the price of LCD panels supplied to US state institutions over the period of one decade.
New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo filed the antitrust lawsuit in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan last week, accusing Samsung and LG of conspiring to manipulate the prices of LCD screens used in flat-screen TVs, computer PCs and mobile phones between 1996 and 2006. On top of damages amounting to tens of millions of dollars in overcharges borne by public institutions such as the state government, hospitals, fire departments, schools, colleges and universities who purchased the LCD-equipped products at artificially raised prices, Mr Cuomo is seeking restitution and civil penalties from the lawsuit.
Sharp, Toshiba, Hitachi, AU Optronics and Chi Mei Corporation were the other companies named in the lawsuit alongside Samsung and LG, among which Sharp, Hitachi, LG and Chi Mei had previously pleaded guilty to federal criminal antitrust violations and paid more than US $890 million in fines. Together, the defendants dominated the global LCD market worth US $70 billion by the end of 2006.
Mr Cuomo claimed that these companies held secret meetings to share factory production data, regulate output levels, eliminate competition, and boost the prices of LCD screens illegally, causing US consumers to overpay for LCD products for a decade.
The spokesmen for Samsung and LG said that their legal team would analyse the official transcript and review the complaints lodged in the lawsuit thoroughly before responding. Samsung and LG were also among the LCD makers sued by US telecommunications giant AT&T in October last year on charges of fixing the price of LCD screens used in mobile phones.