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HP Displays The Almighty Buck The Courts Your Rights Online

HP Sues Over LCD Price Fixing 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the shady-business-practices-on-display dept.
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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HP Sues Over LCD Price Fixing

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  • That's nice (Score:4, Funny)

    by formfeed (703859) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:25AM (#42188909)
    Because if they win, they'll for sure pass it on to their customers.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Deflatamouse (37653) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:59AM (#42189063) Homepage

        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!

        • by azalin (67640)

          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.

      • 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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:25AM (#42189179) Journal

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

    • Re:That's nice (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:51AM (#42189683) Journal

      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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

  • 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
    • by aliquis (678370)

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

    • 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.)

    • by Smauler (915644)

      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.

    • 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.

    • by Khyber (864651)

      "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.

    • by psm321 (450181)

      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!

  • Because we haven't made a tube-based TV since 2002!
    • 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.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        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...

        • by Khyber (864651)

          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.

  • by petman (619526) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:54AM (#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.
    • Trinitrons! I finally tossed out my 17" Sony Trinitron monitor earlier this year. It served me well from 1997-2011!

    • by Animats (122034)

      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 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.

        • by Animats (122034)

          I assume you are talking about Sony.

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

          • by toddestan (632714)

            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.

      • by toddestan (632714)

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

    • 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.

  • How come the people involved in the criminal activity don't go to jail?
    • Because corporations aren't people, you can't throw them in jail! Oh wait... wasn't it decided that corporations are people?
      • 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?

    • 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
  • 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.
  • 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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