Computer chip makers get their knuckles rapped for hiking the price of chips to rip the public off.
In what could be one of the largest antitrust settlements in the nation at $173 million, Colorado and 32 other states banded together and sued several makers of dynamic random access memory computer chips for scheming to jack up prices of their product – a distinct disadvantage for government agencies, businesses and individual consumers. Artificially raising their prices brought the whole house of cards down on them.
“This case is a good example of how many states can and will cooperate in an unfair business practice case. Here, even though the case was filed in California, Colorado became involved and ultimately, secured a settlement on behalf of the state. It goes to show how small a world we live in,” said Miller Leonard, a Denver, Colorado, federal criminal defense lawyer and Denver state criminal defense attorney.
The chip makers named in the multi-state suit included NEC Electronics America Inc., Micron Technology, Inc., both US companies, as well as one company in Germany (Infineon Technologies A.G), one in South Korea (Hynix Semiconductor, Inc.), one in Japan (Elpida Memory Inc.), and one in Taiwan (Mosel-Vitelic Corp. ).
Evidently what happened here is that the chip manufacturers went out of their way to create a remarkably elaborate scheme to drive the prices of the chips up. Fair competition is one thing; collusion in unfair business schemes to artificially raise prices is another. “Unfair business practices are a priority for the Colorado Attorney General,” commented Leonard.
“These types of cases also highlight the growing need for businesses to implement and follow a comprehensive compliance program. More and more, government is seeking civil and criminal sanctions against companies over a myriad of legal matters. Compliance, for good or bad, is a growing need for any company, and in particular, companies doing business in highly regulated industries,” added Leonard.
Colorado won’t be receiving the whole settlement. It will be apportioned by a special master and then the funds will go directly into the State General Fund.
To learn more, visit http://www.fedcrimdef.com or call 303.623.2721.