LG, Sharp admit to LCD price fixing; affected Apple, Dell, Motorola

LG, Sharp admit to LCD price fixing; affected Apple, Dell, Motorola

Summary: LG Display, Sharp, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges for participating in a liquid crystal display price-fixing conspiracy and pay $585 million in fines, the U.S.

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Apple iMacLG Display, Sharp, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges for participating in a liquid crystal display price-fixing conspiracy and pay $585 million in fines, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

The three companies worked in concert to set prices on thin-film transistor LCDs, which are used in computer monitors, notebooks, televisions, mobile phones, and various electronics, according to the antitrust unit of the Justice Department. Apple, Dell, and Motorola were among the companies affected by the price fixing.

CNET's Dawn Kawamoto reports:

The three companies, which were charged with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, allegedly held "crystal" meetings and engaged in communications about setting prices on the TFT-LCD displays. They agreed to charge predetermined prices for the displays, issued price quotes based on those agreements, and exchanged sales information on the display panels, in order to monitor and enforce the agreement, the Justice Department said.

LG Display agreed to pay a $400 million fine, marking the second-highest antitrust fine ever imposed...Sharp, meanwhile, agreed to pay a $120 million fine and participated in the conspiracy between April 2001 and December 2006 with other unnamed suppliers. The conspiracy involved setting prices in three separate agreements for TFT-LCD panels sold to Dell, which used them in computer monitors and laptops [...]

During the period ranging from the fall of 2005 to mid-2006, similar price-fixing schemes were employed in sales to Motorola, which used the panels in its popular Razr mobile phones, [in addition to] Apple from September 2005 to December 2006, in which Apple used the displays for its popular iPod music players.

The investigation's still ongoing, but it finally settles the disparity between PC prices (which tend to only go down in price) and flat panel prices (which have occasionally risen). It also helps to explain when Apple was hit with a component shortage of 15-inch LCD panels for its newly introduced all-in-one flat panel iMacs.

Topics: Apple, Dell, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Mobility

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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7 comments
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  • Ban them

    So why isn't LG products banned from the states for a period of time?
    anonymousddd
    • LOL.

      If they were able to fix prices it means they had a kind of monopoly between them - banning them will just create a shortage, and push the price up.
      TheTruthisOutThere@...
  • Great...

    Consumers get ripped off by the LCD manufacturers who then get fined by some government, thereby, presumably, making that government the beneficiary of the ripoff rather than the manufacturers, but still leaving the consumers ripped off.
    Henrik Moller
  • RE: LG, Sharp admit to LCD price fixing; affected Apple, Dell, Motorola

    Exactly, this is the problem with everything today. Everybody is falsely inflating the price of their products to achieve ever higher profits. If they would settle for lower prices and therefore profits, they would sell more although over a longer period maybe. We should all go back to buying from the little guy and refuse to pay grossly inflated prices for anything just because it is a "name" brand. Ask yourselves if you really need this or that item and will you be using it 6 months from now, you'll have your answer if you're honest with yourself.
    bill.andersen@...
  • commputor industry id dying

    this proves it

    (agreed to plead guilty)

    NOW< where is the accountaBILITY...
    not of this world
  • The worst monopolist is the government

    ...and after that, Microsoft, which loses anti-trust cases and then gives free software to government to atone for being a monopolist. Meanwhile, they are still a monopoly that charges arbitrarily high prices to Americans and arbitrarily low prices to foreigners. *THAT* should be illegal.
    Dave in Alaska
  • RE: LG, Sharp admit to LCD price fixing; affected Apple, Dell, Motorola

    .... america gets stuff very cheaply compared to the rest of the world... you're just in alaska which is a hole
    fabioti