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HP Sues Over LCD Price Fixing

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the shady-business-practices-on-display dept.

HP 56

angry tapir writes "Hewlett-Packard has filed a complaint against display manufacturers Chunghwa Picture Tubes and Tatung Company of America, seeking to recover damages it claims it suffered as a result of their involvement in a price fixing scheme. In November 2008, Chunghwa pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy together with other display manufacturers, including LG Display and Sharp, to set the prices of Thin-Film Transistor-Liquid Crystal Display (TFT-LCD) panels to predetermined levels. The company agreed to pay a US$65 million criminal fine at the time. A jury found AU Optronics, another display manufacturer, guilty of participating in the same conspiracy and was fined US$500 million in September by a judge of the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California. In October last year, 10 LCD makers, including Chunghwa Picture Tubes, were fined $176 million in South Korea for allegedly holding secret meetings to keep the prices for flat screen displays artificially high."

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56 comments

That's nice (4, Funny)

formfeed (703859) | about a year and a half ago | (#42188909)

Because if they win, they'll for sure pass it on to their customers.

Re:That's nice (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42188949)

Company A sues Company B == mutually assured profit for the lawyers, and both companies pass their legal costs on to the consumers.

Re:That's nice (5, Insightful)

Deflatamouse (37653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189063)

There should be a fine against the lawyers holding a secret meeting to artificially create legal events that require the service of lawyers. But then we'll need meta-lawyers!

Re:That's nice (1)

azalin (67640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42192535)

There should be a fine against the lawyers holding a secret meeting to artificially create legal events that require the service of lawyers. But then we'll need meta-lawyers!

I suppose that's what mobs (the spontaneous kind, not the mafia related) are for.

Re:That's nice (2)

Defenestrar (1773808) | about a year and a half ago | (#42190475)

But companies C, D, and E (all competitors to A) benefit from the broken price fixing imposed by B (and it's allies) and will wipe the floor with A unless enough damages are awarded to compensate A for the additional expenses. Breaking an artificial monopoly is a noble thing, but my no means a sure bet financially.

Re:That's nice (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189179)

Right, because HP plays so fair with customers over the printer ink issue...

Re:That's nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42189827)

I love my Samsung laser printer, a new cartridge costs more than the printer itself. I save around 20€ by throwing my printer away and buying a new one everytime I need a restock.

Hell yes I'm going to pay less than half that price to have someone else fill the cartridge for me, don't need to chip either considering I've found modified firmware online.

Re:That's nice (1)

somersault (912633) | about a year and a half ago | (#42190181)

but don't printers usually come with underfilled cartridges?

Re:That's nice (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | about a year and a half ago | (#42191449)

Yes, usually about 30% capacity. The guy is failing, hard.

Re:That's nice (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42194683)

On the other hand, he's getting new rollers and a new head each time, and often printers are on sale.

Re:That's nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42190395)

I have a Samsung ML-2010 laser printer and toner costs just $ 37 for me

Re:That's nice (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189683)

They are just trying to cover for the fact the board spent billions more for recent purchases than they were worth, no different than their claims that there was cooked books on their last buy...yeah, 5.5 BILLION in cooked books, sure, uh huh, really buy that.

They are trying to CYA because while they have gone through CEOs like crap through a goose Whitman and the rest of the board were there too and rubber stamped all those crazy buys, even with everybody pointing out they were paying several times what the companies were worth even in the most optimistic outlook. So expect to see more lawsuits and accusations in the coming months as they probably have another 8-10 billion they are gonna have to write off and the board don't want to take the blame they rightfully deserve.

Did these companies overcharge HP? Oh I have no doubt, but considering how many billions they have pissed away the past few years its like pointing at a guy with a match and saying "Its HIS fault!" while the board is taking flamethrowers to the corporate headquarters. hey! Maybe they can pay Nokia several times what its worth for their HQ? Would fit right in with the rest of their lamebrained purchases of late.

Does that mean that HP will give me a refund? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42188917)

Because I mean they were essentially a cartel charging everyone, so there no real competitive disadvantage for HP, and the real cost was borne by the consumers.

troooogoroworooogoroorrrop! (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year and a half ago | (#42188943)

It isn't. FRRROOOROROROROROROOoooroorororrooreoeeeeeeeeenenenenennnnnp!

I'll Sue Ya (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42189007)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeXQBHLIPcw

Re:I'll Sue Ya (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42189029)

Off-Topic: what is with these CAPTCHAs...

http://s8.postimage.org/4b7p9hyj9/Slashdot.png

I felt kind of guilty typing that in :/

This shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. (1)

idbeholda (2405958) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189009)

Given that it seems about every other year, there's some sort of price fixing scheme that's discovered. Considering the price of LCD/Plasma/Flatscreens have never really come down that much from their original price when they first hit the market, it seems that this kind of news is more of a defacto standard we've come to expect from a capitalist scheme where every company that churns over profits whines about how poor they are. For the record, I'm not really a fan of HP either, considering their business model attempts to lock in consumers with half-assed printers and artifically high priced ink cartridges. As a side note, fining companies that rip off consumers is no way to handle the market in a reasonable, logical manner. If anything, these companies should be forced to pay a class action settlements to anyone who bought their products at artificially high prices. Then again, that might just be rewarding stupidity.

Re:This shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. (2)

aliquis (678370) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189033)

Over here the prices has fallen to like a 1/10th. Or less. So I don't get what you're saying.

Re:This shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. (2)

Deflatamouse (37653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189087)

Where have you been?

15" 1024x768 TFT LCD screens used to cost $300+ circa 2004.

I'm typing this message on a 27" 2560x1440 S-IPS LED LCD screen that also costs $300 from South Korea. (It's a bit of an exception, but it was still obtainable here from the U.S.)

Re:This shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42189167)

look at his UID... he's probably 15. When he says "when LCDs first hit the market..." he's talking about when it was 12 and saw his first LCD.

Re:This shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42190877)

Order link please!

Re:This shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. (1)

Deflatamouse (37653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42191825)

Search Achieva Shimian or Yamakasi Catleap on ebay. There are other alternatives too.

Also visit 120hz.net.

Re:This shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42189147)

Used to exclusively use HP printers but after having 21/22 and 60 type ink cartridges dry out, or seeing half ink pens like the 15 pen at full cost instead of 2/3 of the cost of a 45 pen... I now will consider any high quality printer for my next printer and it doesn't have to be an HP printer.

Re:This shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. (2)

Smauler (915644) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189829)

With technology which is evolving quickly, it's very difficult to pin price fixing schemes on anyone - the moment you find collaboration, the next best thing is already there, and everyone has moved on. I personally do not think that schemes like these are that important to Western consumers - I'm much more worried by contracts purported as being free for a few months that users cannot get out of, with an up front bribe.

Re:This shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year and a half ago | (#42190547)

Considering the price of LCD/Plasma/Flatscreens have never really come down that much from their original price when they first hit the market,

I recall the first consumer flat panels were somewhere around 40 inches and cost well over $10K in the late 1990's. You can now get a 40 inch TV for three to four hundred dollars, perhaps less. Even without taking inflation into account, I'd say they've dropped considerably.

Re:This shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year and a half ago | (#42195423)

"Considering the price of LCD/Plasma/Flatscreens have never really come down that much from their original price when they first hit the market"

What? 1080P 32" LCD screens when they first came out were nearly $4-5,000. I got mine for $800, regular retail, from Best Buy of all places, five years ago.

They sure as hell have come down from their original price, at least LCD.

Re:This shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. (1)

psm321 (450181) | about a year and a half ago | (#42197195)

If anything, these companies should be forced to pay a class action settlements to anyone who bought their products at artificially high prices.

Here you go: https://lcdclass.com/ [lcdclass.com]

It's disturbing to me how little this has been publicized, to the point that even comments on this article don't mention it. It's an unusually decent class action settlement too, with damages around $25/screen (and not in coupons). The filing deadline is tomorrow, so get to it quick!

Chunghwa Picture Tubes! (1)

thoughtlover (83833) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189015)

Because we haven't made a tube-based TV since 2002!

Re:Chunghwa Picture Tubes! (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189785)

I also found it a bit awkward when Samsung carried the "SyncMaster" brand name from their CRTs to LCDs. When I'm getting a LCD, I'm not exactly pondering whether it will sync perfectly to various display modes.

Re:Chunghwa Picture Tubes! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42191371)

When I'm getting a LCD, I'm not exactly pondering whether it will sync perfectly to various display modes.

You will if you buy a super-cheap IPS LCD, which often doesn't include a scaler...

Re:Chunghwa Picture Tubes! (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year and a half ago | (#42195451)

And even if it does have a scaler, there's no guarantee it will support the signal anyways.

That's probably the one thing I do not like about my Samsung TV. Some games will work at 1024x768, other games running the same resolution and refresh rate will give me a no signal. Sometimes this is fixed by turning the TV on and off, other times, I have to quit the program and try again.

Never a problem running at 1920x1080, though. Too bad my main machine runs a rather old GeForce 7950GT.

Don't you mean flat panel display? (3)

petman (619526) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189043)

I know 'flat screen' is now commonly used in place of 'flat panel', but come on, this is Slashdot, we should be the elites when it comes to technology, and we should know better to use the more accurate term compared to common folks. I have a CRT television that at the time of purchase, was advertised as a 'flat screen TV' because it has a flat rather than a convex screen surface. I also used to have a 'flat screen monitor', which was a CRT with a flat screen surface.

Re:Don't you mean flat panel display? (1)

Deflatamouse (37653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189105)

Trinitrons! I finally tossed out my 17" Sony Trinitron monitor earlier this year. It served me well from 1997-2011!

Re:Don't you mean flat panel display? (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189283)

I have a CRT television that at the time of purchase, was advertised as a 'flat screen TV' because it has a flat rather than a convex screen surface.

It's worse than that. The CRT industry managed to get the FTC to allow them to advertise CRTs whose faces were sections of a cylinder, rather than a sphere, as "flat". Much to the annoyance of one vendor which had an actual flat-faced CRT.

Re:Don't you mean flat panel display? (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year and a half ago | (#42190477)

I have a CRT television that at the time of purchase, was advertised as a 'flat screen TV' because it has a flat rather than a convex screen surface.

It's worse than that. The CRT industry managed to get the FTC to allow them to advertise CRTs whose faces were sections of a cylinder, rather than a sphere, as "flat". Much to the annoyance of one vendor which had an actual flat-faced CRT.

I assume you are talking about Sony. But Weren't the original Trinitron screens sections of a cylinder? As far as I know they had the patents for both types of screens and licensed them to other companies.

Re:Don't you mean flat panel display? (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#42193635)

I assume you are talking about Sony.

No, Zenith [google.com] , which had true flat-screen CRTs from the mid-1980s.

Re:Don't you mean flat panel display? (1)

toddestan (632714) | about a year and a half ago | (#42200081)

Sony was the one selling CRTs that had faces that were sections of a cylinder, before they went to all flat screens sometime in the late 90's.

Re:Don't you mean flat panel display? (1)

toddestan (632714) | about a year and a half ago | (#42200093)

Basically the same thing is happening now, where they are advertising "LED screens" that are really just LCDs with an LED backlight.

Re:Don't you mean flat panel display? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189353)

CRT with a flat screen surface

I've got one of those in front of the couch, at the time panels were around $1k more than what I paid. Thing weighs a ton but it does the job. Way back in 1980 I bought a "portable" colour TV, it cost $400AU, (~3 weeks avg wages at the time), it was battered by kids for over 20yrs but was still working, my daughter inherited it but chucked it out when they turned off the analog signal a few years ago.

Confused (1)

george14215 (929657) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189073)

How come the people involved in the criminal activity don't go to jail?

Re:Confused (2)

purpledinoz (573045) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189185)

Because corporations aren't people, you can't throw them in jail! Oh wait... wasn't it decided that corporations are people?

Re:Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42189395)

I read that and thought of the Subway character from Community.

"Hi, my name is Chunghwa Picture Tubes and I would like to apply to your Aryan Brotherhood."

Re:Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42194523)

Because corporations aren't people, you can't throw them in jail! Oh wait... wasn't it decided that corporations are people?

Corporations have all of the rights and none of the obligations of natural persons.

Sincerely, AnonCoward Corp. LLC.

Re:Confused (1)

george14215 (929657) | about a year and a half ago | (#42197241)

I understand that. But in the BP disaster, the actual people that were responsible for precipitating the disaster now face criminal charges. How come, in these price fixing schemes, don't we ever see the actual perps get charged?

Re:Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42190481)

Because jail isn't the right tool for that sort of crime.

IMHO, jail is where you send people that are a physical harm to society -- where they get rehabilitated so that they can be a productive member of society. If they are not rehabilitatable then they are a waste of precious resources (food, water, space, time, money, etc.) and they should be terminated and their organs harvested for people who are useful but in need of organs. Given that they were a burden on society in their criminal ways, they can repay society by saving some lives.

The type of crime being discussed here is much better dealt with by personal restitution. The (real) *people* (not that silly corporations-are-people bullshit) involved are not a physical harm to society so don't need to be jailed for the safety of society. They should be penalized financially however, quite heavily. Additionally they should have to perform community service, like taking care of the elderly and the infirm, etc. Of course, not taking the place of skilled health-care workers but aiding them by doing the less skilled tasks like keeping these people company and feeding them and wiping their asses, etc.

Re:Confused (2)

PhrstBrn (751463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42191141)

Punishing them financially doesn't do anything. They price fix, make a bunch of money, get fined, then have to bump the prices up anyways to pay off the fines. Either way, the customer is screwed with higher prices (at first for price fixing, secondly to pay the fines), the company ends up fine. If you fine the executives, they give themselves a pay bump to pay off the fines, and then pass the cost to the consumer.

If executives actually went to jail for criminal activities, they might think twice before engaging in the first place. No amount of monetary damages will fix the problem.

Re:Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42192661)

Financial punishment was only half (maybe less than half) of the punishment. Their service to society was the real contrition and the part that they could not proxy away.

Re:Confused (1)

Lagmo (972467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42192711)

No need for jail, just confiscate X% of their assets then cap their maximum income to the national average wage for a decade or so. That should make them squirm.

Re:Confused (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42194763)


How come the people involved in the criminal activity don't go to jail?

  1. Governments create corporations.
  2. Governments protect corporate actors from liability.
  3. Corporations earn lots money, not having to worry about liability.
  4. Corporations pay a portion of that money to governments.
  5. Corporations pay a portion of that money to politicians.
  6. Politicians use that money for campaigns to get power.
  7. Politicians use the government money to pay off their friends.
  8. Politicians become wealthy and powerful.
  9. Corporate actors become wealthy, may go into politics.

If you start holding corporate actors responsible for their actions, pretty soon the whole corrupt system degrades.

How much did HP lose and by what mechanism? (1)

asifyoucare (302582) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189483)

I assume that HP's competitors were also paying higher prices for their displays too. If so, how did HP suffer at all? The consumer suffered. Give me some money.

Re:How much did HP lose and by what mechanism? (1)

scared masked man (2776663) | about a year and a half ago | (#42189601)

It depends if any of the cartel were vertically-integrated with an OEM: if so, they could have been shifting all the profits into the panel-making section rather than the bundling and distribution.

Hahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42190323)

HP: "HAY stop price fixing! That's our job, you crooks! I mean, really!"

I wonder if they tapped the phones to find out this breaking information.

Conspiracy... pretty stunning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42191405)

I find it amazing that these companies collaborate with each other in this way. I worked with a DC law firm that reperesented one of these companies, and they were always trying to sue each other into oblivion on various patents. The business always seemed pretty cut throat.

I guess they finally realized that nobody was making any money and they got around to trying to artificially fix the price. See what love your brother gets you? A criminal convinction with a whopping big fine.

Ah, consequences... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42192779)

HP gutted its research and manufacturing and outsourced everything to Asia. And now they're upset these Asian 'partners' are screwing them over...? Kinda hard to sympathize with HP.

$129 for 22" Display (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42194785)

I can spend more on a week's groceries than a typical person is paying for his 5-year+ display at retail.

Just how low do the prices need to be before HP will be happy?

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