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New York Attorney General Sues LCD Makers

Samsung, Toshiba and Sharp are among those accused of illegally fixing prices of liquid crystal display screens used in computers, TVs and mobile phones.
New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed antitrust action against several technology firms for "illegally fixing prices "for LCD (liquid crystal display) screens used in computers, TVs, and cell phones.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in State Supreme Court in New York County, charges that the "cartel" of firms caused damages from 1996 to 2006 to New York State public purchasers who acquired computers and other goods containing the price-fixed screens. The purchasers cited included local governments, schools, hospitals and colleges.

Named in the complaint were Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese companies and their U.S. counterparts. Companies cited in the complaint and their affiliates include AU Optronics Corp., Chi Mei Corporation, CMO Japan, Hitachi Ltd., LG Display, Samsung Electronics, Sharp Corporation, and Toshiba Corporation. The companies have denied the charges.

"Our investigation shows that an illegal cartel eliminated competition in the marketplace for LCD screens, made its own secret decisions to boost prices, and then took steps to make those high prices stick," said Cuomo in a statement. "As a result, hard-pressed New York cities, towns, schools, and hospitals spent hundreds of millions of dollars on LCD screens affected by the illegal conspiracy. My office is bringing this case to get those illegal overcharges back."

The AG's office said that top level executives from the firms cited in the complaint attended regular secret meetings "to agree on minimum prices, price targets and increases and prices to be charged to specific computer manufacturers."

In December, Nokia filed an LCD price-fixing lawsuit against some of the companies named in the New York case for claimed violations from 1996 to 2006.

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