AT&T Lawsuit Against LCD Manufacturers Reinstated
February 16, 2013

AT&T’s LCD Price Fixing Lawsuit Partially Reinstated

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

Part of AT&T´s price-fixing lawsuit against liquid crystal display panel manufacturers has been reinstated by a US federal appeals court, various media outlets have reported.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued the ruling on Thursday, reversing a lower court ruling and reinstating the telecom giant´s claims.

The decision, which was made by a panel of three judges, allows AT&T to apply California´s state antitrust regulations to panel purchases made out of the state, according to Reuters reports.

“The manufacturer defendants, including Taiwan-based AU Optronics Corporation and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, had argued that AT&T's claims violated the due process clause of the US Constitution,” the news agency added. The appeals court disagreed, ruling “California's antitrust statute, the Cartwright Act, can be applied to the defendants as long as some of the conspiratorial activity leading to sale of price-fixed goods took place in the state.”

Richard Taffet, an attorney representing the LCD manufacturers, declined requests for comment on the matter. Conversely, AT&T spokesman Marty Richter told Reuters the company was pleased with the decision.

“AT&T alleged in the Oct. 20, 2009, lawsuit reinstated yesterday that it paid inflated prices for billions of dollars of liquid crystal display panels purchased from 1996 to 2006 because the manufacturers orchestrated a global conspiracy to fix prices,” explained Karen Gullo of Bloomberg. “The company asked for triple damages and an injunction barring the manufacturers from colluding in the future.

“The case is one of several civil antitrust actions filed against makers of the liquid crystal display panels used in computers, notebook computers and televisions following a federal probe,” she added. “A US Justice Department criminal investigation of LCD price fixing led to guilty pleas by LG Display Co., Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. and Sharp Corp., which agreed to pay more than $890 million in fines.”

The Justice Department announced last year a total of 17 executives from those companies had been charged as a result of the investigation, Gullo said.

Ten of those individuals have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to prison, and according to Reuters, two of those executives were from AU Optronics and were convicted by a California jury last year.