Sun, Unisys merge price-fixing lawsuit

07 Sep 2006

Sun Microsystems and Unisys have consolidated a lawsuit against South Korea-based Hynix Semiconductor and six other technology companies as part of an ongoing federal investigation into a worldwide price-fixing scheme.

Sun and Unisys said the companies bilked them of millions of dollars by keeping prices artificially high for computer memory chips, which are used in an array of gadgets, including personal computers, printers, digital cameras, video recorders, video game equipment and cellular phones.

Apart from Hynix, Sun and Unisys filed their combined lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California against Taiwanese manufacturers Mosel Vitelic, Nanya Technology and Winbond Electronics; Japanese manufacturers Elpida Memory and Mitsubishi Electric; and Germany's Infineon Technologies.

The two companies also named Micron Technology and Samsung Electronics as coconspirators in the lawsuit, similar to the one Sun filed by itself in March.

'The global conspiracy "&brkbar; had a direct, substantial and reasonably foreseeable effect on United States commerce,' the newest lawsuit alleges. 'Defendants have been unjustly enriched as a result of their wrongful conduct and defendants' unfair competition.'

The case hinged on findings from the US Department of Justice, which said in June 2002 that it uncovered a 'long-standing conspiracy' among the world's suppliers of dynamic random access memory, or DRAM.

DRAM chips are the most common form of memory, with annual sales exceeding $20 billion a year. The six largest DRAM manufacturers control 96% of the global market.

According to prosecutors, DRAM suppliers conspired to control production capacity, raise prices or slow the decline of prices and allocate customers.

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