With low profit margins and poor sales, some companies producing LCDs have resorted to illegal tactics to help improve their bottom line. Some of the largest companies in the LCD manufacturing industry were embroiled in an LCD price fixing scheme last year that resulted in massive fines and jail terms for some executives.
The legal battle over LCD price fixing in the computer industry started in earnest in November of 2008 when LCD makers pled guilty to price fixing. The companies that pled guilty included Sharp, LG, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes. At the time, all three firms had agreed to pay fines to the U.S. DOJ totaling $585 million. The largest fine was levied against LG at $400 million.
In January of 2009, executives involved in the price fixing scheme were handed jail terms in America of up to nine months. In February of 2009, individual executives were then indicted in the price fixing scheme for their participation. Hitachi was one of the last participants in the price fixing conspiracy to plead guilty and did so in March of 2009.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Nokia has sued major Asian LCD makers for alleged price fixing of LCDs that were used in mobile handsets. Among the companies named are Samsung, LG, Sharp, Hitachi, and Chunghwa. These are several of the same firms who were involved in the price fixing scandal in the computer industry and are named again by Nokia.
Nokia alleges that the "illegal conspiracy raised the price of LCDs above the price that would have prevailed in a competitive market." Nokia purchased LCDs from the firms and used them in constructing its mobile handsets.
Nokia alleges that it suffered damages and is seeking treble damages and injunctive relief. Interestingly Samsung was not cited in the suit over price fixing of the TFT-LCD market for notebooks last year, but it is named this time.