It looks like there’s nothing big companies won’t do to secure high revenues and price fixing deals seem to be quite common. San Francisco jury finds Toshiba guilty for price fixing in LCDs sold in the U.S. market from 1999 to 2006.
Rivals and Toshiba reached an agreement in 1999 to start a deal on LCD price-fixing in the United States market. The suit initiated by companies using LCD screens in other products resulted in an $87 million fine. The San Francisco jury made of 10 judges decided Toshiba must pay $17 million to manufacturers and another $70 million to consumers for price fixing in LCDs.
U.S. manufacturers using LCD screens have complained about an LCD price fixing deal with competitors that resulted in expensive acquisitions for their digital signs, laptop and home-theater equipment business. One of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs said the verdict has made them “very happy”.
Toshiba was the only company that decided to leave the claim in the hands of a jury. Seven other companies involved in the price-fixing LCD deal have agreed to pay ripped off manufacturers and consumers a whopping settlement of $927 million last December. Sharp Corp. and Samsung Electronics. Co are also part of the seven companies.
The company denies any implications in the price fixing deals for LCD and says it has no kind of product that would be subject of the said “crystal meetings”. Toshiba spokesman Julius Christensen announced the company is going to appeal the verdict. “Toshiba plans to pursue all available legal avenues to correct that finding” reads his email statement and hinted the company has no plans to pay the $87 million fine.
According to Christensen, Toshiba won’t “revise projections for fiscal 2012 business performance due to this matter. “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” reads a statement of the company.
The fine should have been a lot bigger than $87 million. Lawyers for the plaintiffs requested a steep $867 million, given that under the antitrust law damages requested could be three times more than the overcharge. But as Jury forewoman Sara Alarcon said lawyers never presented them “with a smoking gun”. “There was a lot of gray area” she concluded.