Jury finds Toshiba guilty of LCD price fixing

Toshiba conspired with vendors to keep LCD prices artificially high, and is liable for a US$87 million fine, a San Francisco jury determined yesterday.

The 10-member jury deliberated for less than two days before finding Toshiba liable to manufacturers for US$17 million and to consumers for US$70 million. US antitrust laws allow overcharge damages to be tripled.

However, the Japanese electronics giant said that it doesn't anticipate paying anything toward the jury's fine, because other defendants in the class-action lawsuit have already paid settlements that exceed the fine against Toshiba.

"Given credits for settlements by other defendants, Toshiba expects that it will not have to pay any damages as a result of this verdict, even after trebling under US antitrust laws," Toshiba said in a statement.

In December, seven LCD manufacturers, including Samsung and Sharp, agreed to pay US$553 million to settle lawsuits that claimed the companies were colluding to fix the prices of their panels for use in consumer electronics. Three LCD makers, including Toshiba, did not participate in the settlement.

A previous settlement aimed at so-called "direct" buyers who were the victims of price fixing on products like TVs and PCs with LCD panels between 2001 and 2006. That particular suit resulted in a settlement of US$388 million, split between the various companies involved.

Despite its expectations of no financial penalty, Toshiba continued to declare its innocence in the matter.

"Toshiba has consistently maintained that there was no illegal activity on its part in the LCD business in the United States, and Toshiba continues to hold that view," the company said. "While Toshiba appreciates the jury's time and effort, Toshiba believes that the jury's verdict is in error as to the finding of wrongdoing on Toshiba's part. Toshiba plans to pursue all available legal avenues to correct that finding."

Via CNET



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