If you’ve been wondering how is it that most LCD displays you come across don’t really differ that much in price, and some will point out “price fixing” as a cause. In the news today Toshiba and Sharp were named among 13 other makes of LCD display that are now being sued by P.C. Richard & Son Inc. over claims for price fixing.
This had apparently started 15 years old in 1996 where the companies “met in person or communicated by other means to agree on LCD product prices and the amount of LCD products each would produce,” according to the complaint filed today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. This was done to ensure that they would get the most out of their customers who would have otherwise benefited from their competition.
This is not the first time LCD manufacturers are being charged over price fixing as it was only last year that Best Buy sued the same companies over the same issue. Already seven of the defendants have admitted to participating in the conspiracy and paid millions of dollars in criminal fines. Toshiba is said to be investigating the matter while Sharp has remained tight-lipped about the entire affair.
Outside of the US, the European Commission (EC) has also fined six LCD makers a total of $860 million for similar crimes and Samsung was one of those that was being charged although Samsung managed to escape the fine by blowing the whistle and offering up damning evidence against the other LCD makers and we’re guessing that this probably damaged whatever relationship that they have prior to this. Now since Toshiba and Sharp have been named in the US lawsuit it looks like it’s only a matter of time before the EC catches up to them.
Although price-fixing is illegal, it’s very hard to prove in court because companies involved typically don’t go on the record with this. Some wireless carriers and other technology actors have been found guilty in the past.