A jury in Northern California this week found Toshiba guilty of conspiring with other LCD panel manufacturers to fix prices in the U.S. market, a verdict that could slap the Japanese tech giant with up to an $87 million fine.
The class-action suit was brought against Toshiba, Samsung, Sharp and other LCD makers in 2007. It was filed by U.S. purchasers of LCD panels, both consumers and TV and computer manufacturers that incorporate the panels into their products.
A group of 10 jurors in the U.S. District Court of Northern California ruled that Toshiba is liable to pay up to $70 million to consumers and up to $17 million to manufacturers, as both groups suffered "injury" from the companies allegedly fixing LCD prices between 1999 and 2006, according to the ruling.
Despite the verdict, Toshiba said it doesn't anticipate having to pay anything in damages because seven other defendants accused of colluding already paid a $553 million settlement in December, which exceeds the newly ruled $87 million fine.
"Given credits for settlements by other defendants, Toshiba expects that it will not have to pay any damages as a result of this verdict, even after trebling under U.S. antitrust laws," Toshiba said in a statement.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the defendants that settled in December are Samsung, Sharp, Hitachi Displays, Chimei Innolux, Epson Imaging Devices, HannStart Display and Chunghwa Picture Tubes. The settlement was used to issue partial refunds to consumers who purchased products with LCD panels from January 1999 through December 2006.
In its statement issued Tuesday, Toshiba denied having participated in any fixed pricing scheme, and said it plans to appeal the ruling.
"Toshiba has consistently maintained that there was no illegal activity on its part in the LCD business in the United States, and Toshiba continues to hold that view," the company said. "While Toshiba appreciates the jury's time and effort, Toshiba believes that the jury's verdict is in error as to the finding of wrongdoing on Toshiba's part. Toshiba plans to pursue all available legal avenues to correct that finding."
PUBLISHED JULY 5, 2012