Antitrust Lawyer Blog Commentary on Current Developments

HITACHI PLEADS GUILTY TO ITS ROLE IN GLOBAL PRICE FIXING CONSPIRACY TO SELL LCD PANELS

On March 10, 2009, Hitachi Displays, Ltd (“Hitachi”), a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd (a Japanese electronics manufacturer), pled guilty and agreed to pay a fine of $31 million for its role in a conspiracy to fix the prices of Thin Film Transistor-Liquid Crystal Display panels (“TFT-LCD”) sold to Dell Inc. (“Dell”).
TFT-LCD panels are used in computer monitors, notebooks, televisions, mobile phones, and other electronic devices. Worldwide sales in 2006 were $70 billion. Hitachi reported $1.75 billion in annual revenue for the fiscal year ending March 2008.

Dell used the TFT-LCD panels in desktop monitors and notebook computers. The conspiracy took place between April 2001 and March 2004.

In January 2009, three former executives of three different electronics manufacturers pled guilty for their roles in a global price fixing conspiracy in the sale of TFT-LCD panels. According to the Department of Justice, these are the first individuals charged in the investigation into the TFT-LCD industry. On November 12, 2008, LG Display Co. Ltd. (“LG”), Sharp Corp. (“Sharp”), and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. (“Chunghwa”) pled guilty for their role in a conspiracy to fix prices for liquid crystal display panels and agreed to pay criminal fines totaling $585 million.

Andre Barlow